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The Hungarian water polo player Lázsló Baksa healed his homesickness with his own delicatessen in Charlottenburg. The home-away-from-home features pickles from Hungarian farmers and homemade pastries.
When Lázsló Baksa, goalkeeper for the Hungarian national water polo team, arrived in Berlin in August 2013, he came with a contract to play for German record-holding team Wasserfreunde Spandau 04 – and he didn't speak a word of German. He soon began to miss the food from back home: dairy, sweets, and above all, salami.
So a year and a half later, he opened his own delicatessen, Borsó, in Charlottenburg. A friend from Budapest who ran his own shop, helped him get started. 'Borsó' is Hungarian for 'pea,' but it is composed of two other words, 'bor' and 'só' or 'salt' and 'wine.'
Tall and athletic with short hair and a denim shirt, Lázsló Baksa stands in his 'Hungarian pantry' surrounded by wooden shelves packed with Hungarian wine and homemade delicacies. The glass counter contains deli meats and a bowl on top is filled with pogácsa, Hungarian pastries stuffed with cheese or crackling. A lot of new customers first come to inquire about the Hungarian salami. He can only shake his head and explain, "There isn't just ONE type of Hungarian salami – there are dozens." Some are made of pork, Mangalica – or woolly pig, wild boar, or elk.
Others ask: "Do you have mild or spicy salami?" László Baksa's recommendation: "Spicy is always better." For him, the most important thing is working together with small Hungarian producers and farmers. Lázsló Baksa pulls a jar from the shelf containing pickled apples, peppers, sauerkraut, pickles, and onions. "This comes from a women in a small village near Budapest," he says.
Lázsló Baksa has two employees and runs the shop himself two to three times a week, generally between 10am and 3pm. Before and after that he's busy training. Sometimes he switches on his phone in the locker room to find he has five or six messages about orders. So how's it coming with the German? "I didn't take any classes," says Lázsló Baksa. "The shop was my language school."
Author: Erik Heier
Wilmersdorfer Str. 152