Sharon Hudgins writes:
“You can smell the stuff when you pull into town. The plants are ripe for picking, and a pungent aroma from the processing factories fills the air. It’s such an important cash crop that the locals even call it “Red Gold.” No, I’m not talking about some kind of controlled substance, the possession of which might land you in jail. This perfectly legal powder is paprika, the spice that’s almost synonymous with Hungary, where it’s produced. A dozen years after my first trip to the little Hungarian town of Kalocsa, I returned once again, just in time for the annual pepper harvest in September. For three to four weeks every autumn, more than 8,000 acres of fields around Kalocsa are filled with farm workers picking bright red peppers and stacking them in small wooden crates or big plastic mesh bags. In the town itself, strings of shiny red peppers hang from balconies, porches, and eaves, like colorful ribbons on a peasant girl’s costume. And on some of the houses, long cylindrical mesh bags full of peppers are suspended from the eaves like giant sausages.” Sharon’s story on Hungarian paprika continues here.