Szalmababi, the 25-year-old Brazilian-Hungarian ex-model, is becoming more and more popular on TikTok, with almost 46K followers and 1.4 million likes. In this interview, among others, she talks about her favourite Hungarian foods and the difficulty of learning the Hungarian language.
Barbara Szalma was born in São Paulo, Brazil. She moved to Hungary in 2017. She is currently living in Pécs, where she studies architecture. She started making TikTok videos in quarantine as a hobby. She got popular on the app in Hungary after she started making videos of herself trying famous Hungarian snacks and food.
Barbara’s grandparents on her mother’s side were born in Hungary and moved to Brazil during the Second World War. Her parents met in Brazil, but she grew up learning a lot about Hungarian culture through food and children’s songs.
“I remember my grandfather singing to me: Elfogyott a túróstészta, ott maradt a tál, gólya gólya hosszúlábú gólyamadár. I do not know if this is a real song, but these words remind me of my grandparents cooking on Sundays.”
Not many Hungarians know foreign languages. Is it hard to communicate, and did it cause you any inconveniences?
It depends on the place. At the supermarket, it is always hard to find someone who speaks English, but in banks or hospitals, there is always a person who can help me.
I always start the conversation with Jó napot, bocsánat, hogy nem beszélek magyarul, egy kicsit magyar.
Older people normally do not speak English, but younger ones try to speak in English with me, even kids, which I find impressive. TikTok allows me to translate all the comments to English, so I know what my followers are trying to say to me. I always try to answer all of them, but sometimes I just say köszönöm or szeretlek.
I speak Portuguese, English, French, Spanish, and a bit of Hungarian, German, and Italian. Hungarian is a really hard language, but a really beautiful one. I have classes twice a week.
What do you think makes Hungarian such a hard language to learn?
I read somewhere that the Hungarian language is the second hardest language in the world, and I agree with that. The languages that I speak come from Latin, so it makes it easy to learn and pronounce. I think the punctuation of vowels makes Hungarian hard to pronounce, also the [grammatical] endings, finding the correct ending for a word is the hardest thing for me. I am dedicated to learning the language, and I hope you will see me speak Hungarian in my TikTok videos soon.
I learnt a lot [of Hungarian] from TikTok. Especially from my “trying to speak Hungarian” videos, which I make often. My followers always help me to understand and speak the correct way.
You have tried many Hungarian foods. Which is your favourite(s), and why?
I love Hungarian food, that is why I started this series of videos. I was in quarantine eating a BALATON chocolate, and I looked at my mother and said “nagyon finon” and after that, I decided to make the videos “trying Hungarian fooood”, and this became my brand. When I was a kid, I used to go to my grandparents’ house on Sundays to eat, and every Sunday there was a different type of Hungarian food.
My favourites are krumplis tészta (pasta with potatoes) and pörkölt (stew). But honestly, it is kind of impossible to say which one is my favourite, because all are so good. I love chimney cake, Dobos cake, and Hungarian pancakes too. Stuffed cabbage is not my favourite one; I eat it once a year because I do not like cabbage much.
Which Hungarian cities have you visited? Which is your favourite and why?
I have been to Budapest, Pécs, Harkány, Orfű, Mohács, and Kaposvár. I love Budapest because it has a magical atmosphere. Walking along the Danube at night is really peaceful.
Pécs is one of my favourite cities. I started my life in Hungary there, and I will always be grateful for everything I experienced here. People start to recognise me from TikTok, and they try to speak to me, and this is so magical. When I moved to Hungary, I never imagined that this could happen to me, and TikTok made this real. I would like to thank all my followers for making all of this possible.
I also want to visit all the Hungarian cities one day. My parents and I have a plan to buy a trailer and travel around Hungary to learn about the country that my grandparents always talked about a lot.
What places would you recommend foreigners to visit if they travel to Hungary?
Budapest, for sure. It is my favourite place. I love the thermal baths because each one has an amazing atmosphere and unique architecture. I would also recommend the parliament; I never get tired of going there and sitting in front of the Danube, taking a lot of pictures.
You can follow Barbara on her social media pages: