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Hungary - Food and Drink
Soup is a staple of the Hungarian people, a taste acquired from their ancestors. Soup often accompanies the main courses, which are usually meat dishes. Soup recipes tend to vary with regions. Restaurant menus try to incorporate recipes from various regions in Hungary.
Hungarians often serve food in large portions. They also use pig and goose fat to cook their meat and vegetables. It is best to ask beforehand how the meal is prepared, especially if you are a vegetarian.
Soup dishes are a prerequisite of most meals, especially lunch. Hungarian soup may use meat or vegetable ingredients. It is also possible to find soup prepared with fruit and served cold during summer.
Gulyas (pronounced gulash) is a soup delicacy to try in restaurants or street cafes. This thick broth is prepared with beef or pork and garnished with carrots and potatoes. Halaszle is soup made from fish, and is sometimes served as the main course.
Vegetarian soups are available too, such as babgulyas, which is made from beans. For winters, split pea soup or sargaborsoleves is an excellent vegetarian choice. In summer, do try gyumolcs leves. This is cold soup made from apricots, sour cherries or peaches.
Most Hungarian main meals focus on meat. Hungarians love to garnish their meat in spices or serve it on a bed of fruit and sauces. Paprikas csirke is a chicken meal cooked in tasty paprika sauce. This pairs well with galuska or pasta dumplings. Another savory meal to try is pulykamell, which is roast turkey breast served in sauce or fruit.
For those who love stews, do try the pörkölt meat stew. Pörkölt can use beef, pork, veal or fish as the main ingredient. For vegetarians, töltött káposzta is a tantalizing meal of cabbage stuffed with rice and spices. Sometimes meat is included in this dish, so it is best to let you chef know if you are vegetarian. Cabbage or káposzta is a popular delicacy in winter season, and is eaten with pastry dishes. If you don’t like cabbage, avoid the káposzta section on menus!
There are more delicious Hungarian delicacies to try, such as fozelek. This is a blend of soup and stew which may include meat, peas or potatoes. There is a vegetarian version of fozelek, although you will need to make sure it is not cooked in animal fat.
In Hungary, pastry is a snack, appetizer or accompaniment to main meals. Lángos is deep fried pastry topped with shredded cheese and ham. Garlic adds a tantalizing texture. The best place to try lángos is at the Central Market Hall in Budapest. The food section at the market hall is a great place to have your first taste of lángos.
Hungarians love having dessert. In restaurants, you can order palascinta or crepes after the main cause. Another popular dessert among Hungarians is turós táska, which is a cheese filled dessert. Turós táska is rarely sold in restaurants, but you can still order it from city bakeries. Túró rudi is the most traditional cheese dessert you will have in Hungary. This is made from traditional quark cheese and then coated with a fine layer of chocolate.
The epitome of Hungarian dessert is somlói galuska. This is a spongy cake cut into cubes then served in a bowl. The bowl is then topped with vanilla sauce before rum flavoring is sprinkled on it. Chocolate sauce is then poured on top, and whipped cream added as a final topping. You can order somlói galuska in any of the restaurants in the city.
Beverages In Hungary
Foreigners should know that Hungarians are not big on beer. Therefore, most of the locally made beer may not be as good as beer from your home country. However, you can still enjoy imported brands of beers in restaurants and local bars. Popular beer brands in the country include Budvar, Pilsner Urquell and Budvar. These are brands imported from Croatia.
On the other hand, Hungary is a haven for some of the best tasting wine brands. On the Hungary-Croatian border is the thriving town of Villányi, which has the best red wine in the country. You can also taste amazing red wine from Eger. A popular wine from Eger is egri bikavér or bull’s blood. Those who love white wine can visit the Lake Balaton region, which has the best white wine in the country. Travel north east from Lake Balaton and you will arrive in a village town called Somlo. Here you can sample more delicious Hungarian white wine.
Hungarians also love liqueur, and have a national signature brand known as Unikum. However, this is an acquired taste that many expats may find bitter. Those looking for something mild and sweeter should try palinka. This is a local brandy distilled from apricots, pears, plums and honey. Hungarian people believe that the fruity and aromatic palinka has medicinal values.
Coffee lovers will find Hungary a great country to visit. Hungarians can drink coffee any time of the day, before or after meals. Coffee or kávé is available in coffee houses and bars. All coffee places serve espresso and decaffeinated coffee or koffein mentes.
Tap water is safe to drink in all city restaurants. Bottled water is also available, although you will pay for the bottle. Hungarians also drink carbonated mineral water (asványvíz) and carbonated tap water (szóda víz).
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