Families are once again queuing up at Laszlo Szeker’s small, old-time ice cream parlour by Hungary’s Lake Balaton, where the summer holidays are in full swing.
Szeker, a spritely 87-year-old, has been making and selling ice cream for 60 years. He had to shut down his business for two months due to the coronavirus pandemic, but he is confident that he will make up for it.
“Who had expected this? This is a strange epidemic … I called it a pensioners’ epidemic as it is mostly pensioners dying (from this virus),” he said.
Szeker keeps his shop open seven days a week in July, the peak of the summer season. He wears a mask as safety precaution, but serves his customers all day, despite temperatures scaling 33-34 degrees.
Due to travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, most Hungarians are staying in Hungary for the summer, with the beaches and resorts of Lake Balaton, Central Europe’s largest freshwater lake, a top destination.
On a board in front of Szeker he has written up the day’s flavours: Lemon, apricot, hazelnut, chocolate, vanilla and pink Punch, a Hungarian favourite made with rum and raisins.
Szeker declined to share his recipes, perfected over decades, but he said he only uses fresh fruits and real chocolate for his ice creams.
“I do not sell ice cream made from powder…it is milk, cream, sugar…I am already giving away my secret!,” he says, smiling.
His ice creams bring back the memory of old times.
“This icecream is just like the ones we had 30-40 years ago, when a scone cost half a forint,” said Erno Kocsis, a regular customer.
Szeker sells his icecream at 200 forints ($0.6873) per scone, way below the average price of 350 forints in Hungary.