It’s as red as blood and, for the traditional Hungarian chef, no less essential for a healthy life. But humble paprika — national spice and integral to all the most treasured Hungarian dishes — has been having a rough time, CNN reports.

According to CNN, the Hungarian paprika production has slumped as buyers across the world have turned to cheaper supplies from Spain, China and Latin America. And two years of unpredictable weather in Hungary may mean this year’s crop of capsicum annuum peppers — the raw ingredient of paprika — is the poorest in 50 years, said CNN.

Horror of horrors, Hungary may even resort to importing the crop. CNN underline, despite these trials, and past upsets such as the communists nationalizing paprika production, the spice remains as crucial as ever to the Hungarian soul. To understand Hungarians, you need to know a little bit about their favorite ingredient, CNN said.

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