Hungarian Kashkaval and the strategy of Eastern opening

If you haven’t tried it yet, you must taste the Hungarian Kashkaval cheese. This delicacy is fabulous!

Those of you who don’t know, Kashkaval is a yellowish cheese made of cow or sheep milk, and it is popular in Romania and in the Balkan countries. Also, a favorite treat in the Arab world. Growing up in Hungary, I never heard about it, and a couple of years ago I started to buy it in a small food-store here in California where I live.

Hungarian Kashkaval.

Hungarian Kashkaval.

I also tried the Bulgarian and the Romanian variants of the product, but I settled on the Hungarian version; it is the best. Hungarian Kashkaval is a bit salty and reminds me of nuts; it is not a soft cheese, but it can easily be cut, when bent it breaks, and the crumbles are just perfect for a salad.

To my amazement the Hungarian Kashkaval is made in Hajdúböszörmény, a small town close to my birthplace, Debrecen. The company’s name is Wassim Cheese, Hungary, and it has an interesting story.

Riad Naboulsi came to Debrecen from Lebanon to study at the Medical School there. These days he is not a practicing doctor, but he is running his cheese empire. In 1989 he started with a small dairy and today he is one of the largest cheese exporters of the country. Most export goes to Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, United Emirates and Iraq.

r. Naboulsi explains the secrets of Hungarian cheese making to Foreign Minister, Mr. Szijjártó (with glasses).

Mr. Naboulsi explains the secrets of Hungarian cheese making to Foreign Minister, Mr. Szijjártó (with glasses).

Since the company fits perfectly with Mr. Orbán’s “Eastern Opening” economic policy, the government supports him with generous breaks and EU funds. Mr. Naboulsi became sort of a poster boy of Mr. Orbán’s economic program.

The Hungarian Kashkaval has an Arab language label, and it arrives to the US from the Middle-East. Since the Orbán-government provides incentives to Arab exports, the cheese travels first to the Middle-East, and then to the United States.

Honestly, I don’t care about the murky “cheese politics” of the Orbán-government, I buy Hungarian Kashkaval because it is excellent. You should try it!

György Lázár

7 Comments

  1. Avatar András Gollner says:

    Én így szeretem a Szíjjártót. Így mutat jól. Egy igazi jó fej. Pedáns. Majulátlan. Figyelmes. Majdhogynem apukás. Nem ? Szerintem így kellene öltöztetni az egész magyar diplomáciai testületet is. Így járják a világot, és teremtsenek munkahelyeket. Én mindenkinek a zsebébe nyomnék egy jó magyar kashkaval-t, világgá ereszteném őket, oszt jó napot. A Bede Fazekas könyvesboltjába lehet ilyen sajtot, ilyen sapkákat venni ? A pálpusztaiak nem féltékenykednek ? Állítólag nekik vaj van még a fülük mögött is 🙂 Ez igaz ?? Kérünk egy cikket a Csányi Sándor hentes műhelyéről is Lázár Gyuri, képekkel, ahogy az Orbán disznót öl és szalámi taktikázik !!!!!! Jó lenne látni egy nép-nemzeti gerincet is, akár.

  2. Avatar András Gollner says:

    For those who do not speak or understand Hungarian, the above was mere fodder for the trolls that frequent these pages, to defend the indefensible. For the serious Hungarian scholars and critically minded visitors, I’d like to point out that the word “Majulátlan” in my previous comment, is a new word – barely 5 minutes old – it replaces makulátlan, because the latter has a double meaning, (some people interpret it as “töketlen”. No such risk with “majulátlan” because it has no meaning at all) Majulátlan is a nice new Hungarian word, it’s value free, ódorless, politically neutral and non-pejorative. It’s also gender-free, and that is an important quality to possess nowadays in any language. I created it as a one-off for those who are into searching their Hungarian dictionaries for meaningless words. It goes well with bacon and cheese, and is especially well suited for the slightly nutty Kashkaval. It should be spoken at room temperature and with eyebrows raised.

  3. The Orban government is now in the cheese business as well? Seriously? By the way, in the picture it looks like Szijjarto is scowling at the cheese for some reason. Maybe the cheese guru asked for an even bigger tax break.

  4. “The Hungarian Kashkaval has an Arab language label, and it arrives to the US from the Middle-East. Since the Orbán-government provides incentives to Arab exports, the cheese travels first to the Middle-East, and then to the United States.”

    I don’t get it. Who does the packing job and where? Who provides the packing materials? For in the country where I live a lot of lucrative Hungarian import projects failed simply because the Hungarian exporters couldn’t or in most cases were simply reluctant to ship the merchandise in a special standard of packing the importer requested.
    BTW, nothing special, they just requested different color for the box and a self adhesive label in local language.
    So, if the exporter ships the merchandise in bulk to the Middle-East and the trader provides the packing materials, does the packing and resells the shipment to the U.S. with Arab language label, how can the maker fend off adulteration of food or mislabeling? If the exporter or the maker does the packing in Hungary what’s the point of exporting to the U.S. with dual Arab/Hungarian language label? Odd anyway. Possibly only for me ‘cos I don’t get the point.

  5. Avatar Don Dawson says:

    Szia András! És mi a “makulátlan” 2. jelentése? Lécci válaszolj magyarul!

  6. Avatar George Lázár says:

    Dear Richard,

    It seems that the Hungarian bulk cheese is packaged by Abdullah Abbar & Sons in Saudi Arabia, comes to a wholesaler in Glendale, California and distributed here.

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