Hungary: Borsó deli

Planet Berlin: Taste of a Hungarian childhood

Two lives

One minute in the pool, the next behind the deli counter! Every athlete is well advised to have a second career to fall back on after their professional sporting life ends. László Baksa, goalkeeper for the Hungarian national team and for Wasserfreunde Spandau 04, Germany's undisputed water polo champion, also runs a Hungarian delicatessen.

Planet Berlin: Taste of a Hungarian childhood

Preserving the past

"As a young boy, I went shopping at my friend Sanyi's store every day before school, and Sanyi was always very friendly with people," Baksa recalls of his childhood in Budapest. At that time he would not have believed that he would miss the smell of the products so much, that after relocating to Berlin, he would open his own "Hungarian pantry" — with the help of Sanyi.

Planet Berlin: Taste of a Hungarian childhood

Which salami?

Many Borsó customers of course want to know about the salami. Baksa's response is that there are dozens, some derived from woolly pig, elk and wild boar. But the deli counter displays a cornucopia of Hungarian meat products, including bacon and smoked hams. All are sourced from small producers in Hungary.

Planet Berlin: Taste of a Hungarian childhood

Fine wine

Wine has been grown since antiquity in the area that is today called Hungary. When the country was part of the East Bloc, its local wine production suffered as emphasis was put on quality over quantity. But contemporary Hungarian wine growers have gladly left this reputation behind. The quality and variety of wine produced in Hungary today is attested to by Borsó's packed wine shelves.

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.' 

Hungary: Borsó - Move your cursor or finger for the 360° view

Regional specialities

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. 

Related Subjects

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
10585 Berlin-Charlottenburg

Related content