There is a widespread misconception that Hungarian cuisine is limited to greasy, oily goulash and spicy, fatty sausages. If you devote time to get to know the Hungarian kitchen, you will find out soon that there are tasty salamis, delicious pastries and pickled delicacies to try.
Stuff writes about the ‘surprisingly good cuisine’ of Hungary, to which their journalist was introduced through a walking tour, Taste Hungary.
The tour itself was launched in 2008 to show visitors the great variety of tasty food and excellent wines that Hungary has to offer. Carolyn and Gábor Bánfalvi, the minds behind the movement, believe that
there has been a culinary Renaissance since the fall of Communism in Hungary which should not be overlooked.
The tour starts at 10:00 at the Central Market Hall, the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest, which the article compares to a Victorian train station (and there is truth to it). Participants are immediately thrown into the deep end of the pool: the first thing to taste is the famous Hungarian bitter, the Unicum, so make sure you are not starting the tour with an empty stomach. The recipe to Unicum is still a secret after over 200 years; the only thing known is that it is made from 40 different herbs.
To help to recover after this bitter and strong alcoholic drink, the next item on the list is the renown lángos. Lángos is conquering the world as we are speaking: this deep-fried flat bread traditionally topped with cheese and sour cream (but with many other variations) is guaranteed to make your knees weak. The dough is light, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
To prove that there is more to Hungarian meat than just sausage, the next stop at the Central Market Hall is the salami and beef tongue tasting. The author highlights Pick’s ‘winter salami’ which is the only Hungarian salami prepared without paprika, and with a protective layer of mould. Speaking of paprika, make sure to try Erős Pista (Strong Steve) and Édes Anna (Sweet Anna), a spicy and, respectively, a sweet paste of paprika.
Hungarians are huge fans of pickled vegetables, which you can try at the market hall. Go for the sauerkraut, the pickled garlic and the pickled gherkin.
After this lengthy and adventurous trip to the Central Market Hall, lunch commences at Belvárosi Disznótoros, a restaurant set up as a tribute to traditional butchers. The food here is cheap and prepared quickly. You can choose from many delicacies, like cold fruit soups, breaded meats (for example breaded chicken liver, which the author had), blood sausages, crispy duck confit served with horseradish, pickled cucumber and Erős Pista.
The next stop is on the classy side of venues: it is the Central Café, a vintage coffee house which played a decisive role in the Hungarian literary scene. The focus here are the cakes: try the magnificent, chocolatey Dobos, or Eszterházy, a walnut cake with vanilla custard filling, Ischler, which is the lovechild of chocolate and jam, or the Rákóczi túrós, meringue-topped almond tart with apricot jam and cottage cheese.
Hungarian wines probably do not require a lengthy introduction, and it would come as no surprise that wines are included in the tasting tour. The last stop is at the Tasting Table, which is located in the basement of a former 19th-century palace, offering over 200 different types of Central European wines. The author tried the most significant Hungarian wines: the Bull’s Blood (a rich, dry red cuvée originally created in the Eger region – legend says that ancient Hungarians poured bull’s blood into their wines before a battle), the Tokaji aszú (a fruity sweet white, perfect to go with desserts), and a minerally organic red one from the Balaton region.
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