Planning on traveling to Europe?
For a unique take on European cuisine, consider venturing to Budapest, Hungary. Hungarian food combines German, Italian and Slavic influences and the result is a taste unlike any other. From sweet, gooey, chocolatey pastries to spicy cauldron-cooked stew, Hungarian cuisine has something for everyone.
Here are my – a native Hungarian’s – top recommendations. All nine items listed below are available throughout the country. Enjoy!
1. Palacsinta are the Hungarian version of crepes. They are eaten rolled up and can be filled with anything from ground walnut mixed with powdered sugar to apricot jam or Nutella. The best place serving up palacsinta: Gundel (1146 Budapest, Gundel Károly street 4).
2. Langos are slabs of fluffy, deep fried dough topped with sour cream and shredded cheese. Don’t forget to ask for bacon! Grab your langos at Great Market Hall/Nagycsarnok (IX. Vámház körút 1-3).
3. Palinka is a fruit brandy that traditionally comes in pear, honey and peach flavors. Itf people invite you to their home, this will be the first thing offered to you and it is acceptable to take it in shots. Hungarian shot glasses are significantly smaller than American shot glasses, making your welcome drink less foreboding!
4. Goulash (Gulyás) Soup is a Hungarian staple. It is packed with cooked dough shavings, paprika, vegetables, and sausage and is guaranteed to turn your face – from the sides of your mouth up to your cheeks – red. Best place serving up Goulash Soup: Kéhli Vendéglő (1036 Mókus u. 22.).
5. Turo Rudi. If you only eat one local food item in Hungary, Turo Rudi is the way to go. People go crazy for this stuff! (My family loves Turo Rudi so much that when relatives visit us from Hungary we only ask them to bring some Rudi back.) You can easily spot this small desert snack by its wrapper – it’s red and spotted. Best place serving Turo Rudi: anywhere! You can find it in all supermarkets and even in Turo Redi vending machines.
6. Pombar are teddy bear-shaped potato chips that disappear seconds. Lays chips have nothing on these.
7. Kürtőskalács/Chimney Cakes. Notice a trend? We Hungarians have a sweet tooth! Kürtőskalács pretty much sums it up – it is a chimney-shaped dough baked over an open fire, glazed with crystal sugar and rolled in various toppings. Best place serving up Kürtőskalács: Molnar’s Kürtőskalács (Vaci Utca 31).
8. Rakott Krumpli is a favorite Hungarian comfort food. Imagine layers of sour cream, potatoes, eggs, and smoked sausage. Yum! Best place serving up Kele Csárda (1154 Budapest, Arany János St. 122).
9. Pogácsa. A version of a biscuit, the pogácsa’s secret lies in the pan it is cooked in. My grandmother generously greased her pan right before loading it into the oven – and the rest is a mystery. Best Place serving up Pogácsa: Daubner Cukrászda (1025 Budapest, Szépvölgyi út 50).
So what are you waiting for? Head over to Hungary and indulge!
Words and opinions: Agnes Zuberecz