1-3 September, 2023.
It is enough to take a sniff on the bank of the River Tisza at the first weekend of September and everybody knows it is the time of the International Tisza Fish Festival. On the remains of the one-time water bastion there is a giant 5,000 litre cauldron, in which the most precious food in Szeged, the fish soup, is cooked, with the use of many different fish and a multi-stage procedure. Its mouth-watering smell fills the air of the bustling river bank indeed. The bright red ground paprika necessary for this masterpiece, traditionally seasoned with onions from Makó and salt from Transylvania, is delivered by a witch descending from the sky. At the tables on the river bank more than a hundred thousand guests enjoy their meals made from the fish of the Tisza and Fehér-tó. It is a special, Szeged-style feast, an opportunity for preserving traditions and meeting friends and relatives. It is only the fish who don’t celebrate, as tons of them are served on this occasion. However, it is not only the professional chefs and fish cooks that are kept busy on the bank. On the Saturday of the festival teams of colleagues, friends and families bustle around the cauldrons, as those regularly cooking fish at the festival are given a special reward. To be a member of the order founded to preserve the uniquely delicious fish soup and popularise fish as healthy food, participants need to make fish dishes for seven years. They can gain the title “eternal fish cook” going through different stages each year. The bank of the Tisza, the fragrant and delicious specialities are worth a visit with a tasting as we know from the song: in the late summer sunshine “under the Szeged bridge, girls are frying fish”.