When history haunts the streets of Budapest, it is mostly with the memories of a more familiar empire, the Habsburg one. But on Andrássy avenue you will find a strange but wonderful guest from the Levant. Ghraoui confectionery was founded in 1805 in Damascus, Syria, and was widely known for its sumptuous preserved fruit. In 1931, they added chocolate to the repertoire, and never looked back, winning multiple awards for their delicately, carefully crafted delicacies. Then came the war, and suddenly making chocolate seemed like an impossible dream. The Ghraoui family would however not give up, and they relocated their business, and factory, to Hungary, a poignant choice, given the local government’s often controversial policies on migration. Even in exile, the Ghraouis tried, as much as the times allowed it, to still source ingredients, such as almonds, apricots or oranges, from their lost homeland and offered financial help to their former employees.
Their Budapest flagship store was designed by French architect Bruno Moinard, the walls adorned with bas-reliefs recreating a Mediterranean orchard. Just wandering around the shelves is a feast for the senses, and you haven’t even tasted the chocolate yet. When you do, you will perhaps understand what Proust was writing about when he described his lovely madeleines. But Ghraoui’s chocolates take you on an even more exotic adventure. These are tastes you’ve never tasted, yet somehow remember, proof that when we invest time, love, and care we can save the past from oblivion, one bite at a time.