Xpat Interview: Karen Avila, Owner, Mexican & Hungarian Artisan Bakery

  • 17 Jul 2019 3:16 PM
Xpat Interview: Karen Avila, Owner,  Mexican & Hungarian Artisan Bakery
Karen and Tamas are owners of Tortuga és Pohánka - a Mexican/Hungarian Artisan Bakery which joins traditional flavours from Mexico and Hungary. 

Some of the most popular breads in store are the Mexican sweet breads known as Conchas a vanilla flavoured dough with a sugar coating; Roscas an orange/lime flavoured dough typically eaten only on the 6th of January; and the Kalacs a traditional Hungarian milk loaf. 

All breads, sweet and salty, are made with 100% Sourdough and using only local, organic products of the best quality without additives.  They prefer to use sourdough because it is more natural for the body.  Although it is not gluten-free, the sourdough eats most of the gluten in the breads so it's not so hard on the stomach.

Mi casa es tu casa! Everyone is welcomed here and can rest in the upstairs lounge area.  All products are baked fresh every morning and afternoon in plain sight as if it were your grandma's kitchen. 

Their shop is located in Wesselényi utca 64.

1. When did you arrive in Hungary and what brought you here?
I arrived to Budapest in April 2015.  After travelling around and realizing the fast city-life was not for me I came to visit Budapest for 10 days.  I fell in love with this country and stayed.

Tamas is Hungarian; I met him a few months after moving here.  Some things are just meant to be. :-)

2. Have you ever been an expatriate elsewhere?
Yes, in 2010 I lived in France and although I was a student-teacher there my free-time was always spent in bakeries.  The most important thing I learned there was that it's okay to put butter and mayo in a sandwich. 

In 2012 I moved to Panama where I also taught and spent my free time in bakeries in remote villages.  It is here where I realized my passion for baking extended to giving to the community. 

After this I moved through indigenous territories, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Peru where I continued on baking for everyone.

3. What surprised you most about Hungary?
The people, nature and FOOD!  I came here knowing one Hungarian friend who had explained that Hungarians were not the kindest.  On my first few days I made friends with all my neighbours and even the Metro ticket-guys would gladly tell me of places I MUST visit and how to get there. 

What I love most about Hungary is that there is nature all around.  Travel 30 minutes anywhere around Budapest and you are in the nature.  And of course all the foods!

4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
Picnic at top of Gellért Hill.  Duna public transport boats to the last stop to eat!  One of the days I take them to a small restaurant which serves traditional Hungarian foods.  Walk along the Duna seeing most of the main attractions and of course I would squeeze in another picnic at the hidden gem Kopaszi gát.

5. What is your favourite Hungarian food?
Töltött Káposzta - Stuffed Cabbage!

6. What is never missing from your refrigerator?
Butter in the fridge, bread on the shelf.

7. What is your favourite Hungarian word?

8. What do you miss the most from home?
Mexican Food! Specifically Sopes and Watermelon Water ☺

9. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
I like to daydream "What if I would have continued in the field of Genetics?"

10. What's a job you would definitely never want?

11. Where did you spend your last vacation?

12. Where do you hope to spend your next one?

13. What was your favourite band, film, or hobby as a teen?
My favorite thing to do as a teen was to listen on full blast to Metallica while reading any book.

14. Apart of temptation what can't you resist?

15. Red wine or white?
Red. But why not both?

16. Book or movie?

17. Morning person or night person?
A bit of both - 4-6 hours of sleep is enough for me.☺

18. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?
Feminism and Equality in general.

19. Buda side or Pest side?
Although my favorite place in Budapest is Gellért Hill, generally I like Pest most.

20. What would you say is your personal motto? 
"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is You-er than You." - Dr. Seuss

  • How does this interview make you feel?