Once you arrive in Hungary, you’ll be bombarded by strange gastronomic concoctions to try. Of course, everybody thinks that their national cuisine is the best, but Hungarians tend to overdo it sometimes 😀 There are a number of foods we have which seem to be strange at first glance, but it’s quite easy to get addicted to them. This list tries to gather the most important things that you have to try:
Without a doubt, this is the Hungarian national dessert. Although the combination of túró (something along the lines of cottage cheese, but not quite) and chocolate might seem a bit daunting at first, a lot of people are completely addicted to the taste. Quite a number of Hungarian expats receive care packages from their families which consist of nothing else, but túró rudi.
The best literal translation here would be chimney cake, which stands for a sweet pastry that you can buy from vendors on the street. Some people make i tat home, but you need special equipment for it, so it’s easier to buy it than to make it. The flavors can appear in any combination, but the most popular are sugar-vanilla, cinnamon, coconut, and almond.
Most cultures have a sort of traditional fish soup, and Hungary is no exception. Halászlé, or fisherman’s soup is prepared in a number of ways and all families have their own sacred recipe. The basic idea is that you don’t overcomplicate the whole thing, and you don’t leave out the most important spice, paprika.
This is not the fanciest dish, but still a big favorite. Good comfort food should have lots of carbs, and this dish doesn’t fail in that regard. The base is pasta with túró and a bit of sour cream, and you can eat it either sweet or sour. The sweet version, with sugar, is considered by some as the kid’s edition, while the ’regular’ túrós csusza is served with crispy bacon.
Stuffed cabbage is a staple dish, especially around Christmas time. The cabbage leafs are filled with rice and ground meat and cooked in a paprika sauce. It is served really hot with bread and sour cream. Don’t expect to move for a while after you’ve tried it, it’s pretty filling.
Lángos is the typical beach food, and most people start salivating immediately when they sell it. It’s cheap, very filling, and reminds everyone of childhood summers. The base is savory dough which is fried and then topped with a combination or garlic, sour cream, and cheese.
Another comfort food, rakottkrumpli is basically a casserole consisting of potatoes, eggs, sausages, and sour cream. People often add their own ingredients or leave out others, as it’s easily modified to suit your taste (and since it’s a pretty cheap meal, your budget).
This cake was created by Joseph Dobos in the 19th century, and since then, have become a must-have in all pastry shops. The cake alternates layers of chocolate buttercream and sponge cake, and is topped with caramelized sugar.
If you’ve ever had ratatouille or peperonata, you have the basic idea: this is a thick vegetable stew, which can be customized any way you want. The main ingredients that all Hungarian lecsós have though are onion, pepper, and tomato. A lot of people add eggs, sausages, barley, or rice, there is no end to the possible combinations!
No matter what people say, it’s a meal.