What you’d think I go to Hungary and not be able to resist the pun? Let’s dive into some Hungarian cuisine, and learn by immersion.
We begin our Hungarian meal with a basic starter of sandwiches, Tojaskrem to be exact, a Hungarian egg salad sandwich.
Tojaskrem is a spread made up of finely chopped eggs mixed with butter, onion and spur cream served with a drizzle of paprika and spring onions on top of an open face baguette, not unlike Danish Smorrebrod. Like most cuisines in Europe, bread is a staple of Hungarian food served both as a side and a main.
Every country has its own representative cuisine and where better to try it than at a canteen (Étkezde), specifically Kisharang Etkezde, located near the cathedral.
And you don’t get much more representative with Hungarian food that Goulash. Goulash is a medieval Hungarian stew of meat and vegetables seasoned with paprika and other spices. The dish was first made and eaten by Hungarian herdsmen where the meat was cooked and sun-dried before being stuffed into sheeps stomachs and eaten after re-boiling the meat with water. Paprika was only added to the dish much later when it was introduced to Europe from the Americas.
Goulash, filling as it was is a soup and being the first full meal I had in Hungary, I added another item to my lunch a Mushroom Paprikash. A paprikash is a dish where the main protein is simmered for hours in a parprika infused roux (flour and fat cooked together and used to thicken sauces) and is most commonly served in Hungary as a Chicken Paprikash, this mushroom paprikash was served with a side of homemade pasta.
Traditional restaurants may be interesting, but this is not where locals good too these days, so for a taste of modern touch on classicial Hungarian cuisine, I dropped into Helyszin Cafe inside the Jewish Quarter, to wolf down some Hungarian Sausages with Paprika.
Sausages, meat in casing are ubiquitous around Central Europe, since you find them in Austria, Germany, Hungary and all around. What distinguishes sausages in these different areas are their stuffings, preparation and consumption. Hungarian sausages differ quite a bit from Austria and German cuisine in how they are consumed — in soups and as part of other dishes rather than as the main protein itself. They may be served in soups, or as part of an omelette like I was served in Helyszin.
Serious, traditional food over it was time to try the street food that defined Hungary – Langos, and there is a ‘number one’ place that a tourist should visit, Retro Langos Bufe.
Langos is quintessential Hungarian street food, deep fried dough served with toppings. Langos was originally baked over a fire but it is not deep fried in oil. A traditional langos is deep-fried and then served with sour cream and a large fistful of cheese drizzled over it. It’s the perfect food after a night out on the town, locals claim the fatty dough soaks up the alcohol, so you don’t get a hangover, you buy that? 😉 I didn’t but that didn’t stop me from enjoying a sinful evening combination of beer and deep fried dough
The queue outside Bors Gastrobar spoke for itself. Located within the Jewish quarter, Bors Fastropub opened in 2012 and serves soups and sandwiches. Their soups and sandwiches change based on the ingredients available that day and can only be described as modern Hungarian food.
“IGEN!” shouted the staff at the gastropub, to every order that was called out, they were clearly in an energetic mood – somehow I had a sense that they were channeling their inner Gordon Ramsay. But it sure worked since the soups and sandwich combination was amazing.
I started with pea soup, a traditional Hungarian soup made out of simply peas, although the dish was modernised with the influence of moroccan spices. For a sandwich, in homage to the fact that I was in the Jewish quarter, I had a Hungarian style Jewish Hummus filled sandwich. The jerky pictures kind of tell you how good it was.
Even sausages have been modernised by a local Budapest street food chain, Kolbice by Kobe. A hollow coned bread, with sausages and sauerkraut inside. If this way of eating sausages does not make one a happy kid again, I don’t quite know what does.
ON THE MAP (Kisharang Étkezde)
ON THE MAP (Helyszín Cafe)
ON THE MAP (Retro Langos Bufe)
ON THE MAP (Bors Gastropub)
ON THE MAP (Kolbice by Kobe)