Just for fun: Food culture in Hungary

Hello everyone,

We all know Hungarian food tastes great. Do you consider yourself a foodie? Share with us your unique food experience as an expat.

1. Name 3 best well-known Hungarian street foods according to you.
2. Which are some unusual dishes that you have discovered ?
3. What makes up the typical breakfast in Hungary?
4. Name 3 of your favourite festive dishes.
5. According to you, which essential ingredient defines Hungarian cuisine?

Thanks for participating,
Diksha

Diksha :

1. Name 3 best well-known Hungarian street foods according to you.

I can only think of lángos (deep fried bread batter often topped with cheese), and chimney cake (Kürtőskalács). I don't like Kürtőskalács, and while I really like lángos, it is a grease laden mass that will block your arteries. So I limit how much I eat (about twice a year currently).

Diksha :

2. Which are some unusual dishes that you have discovered ?

Quite frankly, regarding main meals, only one -- Stinging nettle wrapped in a pancake. I am a vegetarian and Hungarian cuisine and Hungarians don't quite get vegetarianism food wise. I have lost track on the number of times I have asked for vegetarian options, and was suggested the fish menu (guess that is a Catholic bias thinking "fish" is not "meat"). Seriously,  The Hungarian cuisine does not understand vegetarians.

Diksha :

5. According to you, which essential ingredient defines Hungarian cuisine?

Paprika.

Goulash with everything!

fluffy2560 :

Goulash with everything!

Lard with everything, bacon with bacon!

Marilyn Tassy :
fluffy2560 :

Goulash with everything!

Lard with everything, bacon with bacon!

Haha, yes indeed.  Lean bacon?  What's that? Never heard of it.

Goose fat on HU bread - heart attack special.

Bone soup - WTF is that (actually)?  Talk about cheap materials.

Tokaji dessert wines - blood glucose/sugar raising sickly sweet yuck!

Unicum - drink it when under the weather or if you've got a bit of a cough, rub it on your chest.

Unicum may actually put hair on your chest, forget about having to rub it in!

Marilyn Tassy :

Unicum may actually put hair on your chest, forget about having to rub it in!

Hmmmm...Mrs Fluffy might complain about that if she's drinking it. 

More importantly, maybe it'll work on people's heads too? 

That's a sort of lazy Sunday afternoon question....

fluffy2560 :

Goulash with everything!

What foreigners call simply "goulash" is in Hungary actually rather called Pörkölt, which is a kind of meat stew.

The Hungarians do have a "goulash soup" which is often mistakenly simply called "goulash" by foreigners. The world goulash, coming from the Hungarian word "gulya" which means cattle herd, and "gulyás" meaning the heard guides (i.e. caretaker) who during there week long trips on the Hungarian Puszta with the herd, are cooking the goulash soup for everyone in the big kettle (bogrács), So there is no simple "goulash" to describe a food in Hungary. That is why some restaurants today in Hungary may offer "bogrács goulash soup", cooked and often served in a small kettle, but not simply "goulash". In such "goulash soup" you can also find additives such as potatoes, vegetables, and hot red paprika.

What people do not often know is that the Hungarian goulash soup is always a clear soup.

Above info from my Hungarian wife, who has won an award for her cooking in Hungary, and who has lived abroad and knows how others think about Hungarian cuisine.

Also see, for fun and another view:

https://stcoemgen.com/2013/02/14/texas- … -capsicum/

klsallee :
fluffy2560 :

Goulash with everything!

What foreigners call simply "goulash" is in Hungary actually rather called Pörkölt, which is a kind of meat stew.

The Hungarians do have a "goulash soup" which is often mistakenly simply called "goulash" by foreigners. The world goulash, coming from the Hungarian word "gulya" which means cattle herd, and "gulyás" meaning the herd guides (i.e. caretaker) who during there week long trips on the Hungarian Puszta with the herd, are cooking the goulash soup for everyone in the big kettle (bogrács), So there is no simple "goulash" to describe a food in Hungary. That is why some restaurants today in Hungary may offer "bogrács goulash soup", cooked and often served in a small kettle, but not simply "goulash". In such "goulash soup" you can also find additives such as potatoes, vegetables, and hot red paprika.

What people do not often know is that the Hungarian goulash soup is always a clear soup.

Above info from my Hungarian wife, who has won an award for her cooking in Hungary, and who has lived abroad and knows how others think about Hungarian cuisine.

Also see, for fun and another view:

https://stcoemgen.com/2013/02/14/texas- … -capsicum/

Inside Hungary pörkölt I always thought was beef "goulash" style stew but gulyásleves was a soup mostly made up on the spot recipe but with the goulash theme (i.e paprika). 

It seems often made with multiple variants - usually based whatever was available for the pot on the puszta -  commonly with both pork and beef plus the "base" of usual onion,  paprika and caraway seeds.  Roughly chopped ootatoes and carrots or anything else reasonable thrown in as available.   

I dunno about the clear bit, never had that style or heard of that.  I wonder how that could be done while camping out on the plains.  Maybe bones went into it and it was strained but that sounds a bit complicated to do out in the middle of nowhere over the pot around the open fire.  Maybe it's some variant of the strange (to me) bone soup.

When we're in Balaton, we quite often make it in the garden over a wood fire and that imparts a superb smokey taste to it.  Back home, one can use smoked paprika (füstölt paprika) to simulate the same kind of thing.

Being a regular traveller, my experience of goulash served outside of Hungary is nowhere near close to in-country versions. Some of it is an insult to the properly prepared Hungarian classic. A bit like very common Chinese food they've adapted for local markets/tastes.  Should be really called "goulash themed...." but even that is a stretch in most places.

I love goulash soup. Hungarian style.
In the US people call it."Ghoulash" it is usually a nightmare mix of canned tomatoes, half cooked onion, ground beef and even corn thrown in for good measure, served on a bed of elbow macaroni. More of a mixmash of leftovers thrown into a skillet. Just nasty stuff.
I grew up eating foods that were sort of Slavic and Hungarian at least the best US version my mom could make up.
My father would oversee the stuffed cabbage and jelled pigs feet just to make sure they were like his mom made.
If I enter a house and it smells like cabbage cooking then I know they can cook.
My German friend in the US loves her red cabbage with apple but her husband can't stand the smell of cabbage, poor thing she has to go to a German restaurant to get her cabbage fix.

fluffy2560 :

I dunno about the clear bit, never had that style or heard of that.

Then you did not follow the link I provided. For one thing, it is sans paprika powder it is historical form (the modern form is not traditional). Thus not a "bowl of red". One must know that goulash soup ("Gulyásleves" where leves is soup in Hungarian) is ancient, and thus is historically sans paprika. As paprika is from red pepper, which is native to and imported from the Americas, it never could have been an ingredient of traditional Gulyásleves. As paprika did not exist in Hungary until the "discovery" of the "new world".

From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goulash#Guly%C3%A1s

"Red peppers and potatoes are post-16th century additions, unknown in the original recipe. "

fluffy2560 :

When we're in Balaton, we quite often make it in the garden over a wood fire and that imparts a superb smokey taste to it.  Back home, one can use smoked paprika (füstölt paprika) to simulate the same kind of thing.

Adding the paprika was your modern fudging it. Cooking over the fire was the correct, historical method.

Cannot reply due to the link under review nonsense.

You're right, I didn't look at the links this time.

But this is the kind of paprika cream we use - if you have time you can look up the ingredients to verify it's convenience vs ancient authenticity.  I prefer the csipos version to give it some kick.

Goulash Cream

Clear gyulasleves - don't care how old and an original recipe is - if it doesn't taste good enough and blow your socks off with some decent heat, then best not to bother!

Marilyn Tassy :

I love goulash soup. Hungarian style.
In the US people call it."Ghoulash" it is usually a nightmare mix of canned tomatoes, half cooked onion, ground beef and even corn thrown in for good measure, served on a bed of elbow macaroni. More of a mixmash of leftovers thrown into a skillet. Just nasty stuff.
I grew up eating foods that were sort of Slavic and Hungarian at least the best US version my mom could make up.
My father would oversee the stuffed cabbage and jelled pigs feet just to make sure they were like his mom made.
If I enter a house and it smells like cabbage cooking then I know they can cook.
My German friend in the US loves her red cabbage with apple but her husband can't stand the smell of cabbage, poor thing she has to go to a German restaurant to get her cabbage fix.

OMG, canned tomatoes - absolutely awful.  And a sugar bomb. 

Isn't that Ghoul-ash fit for only the dead?

All this almost fits in with our discussion of American cheese. I had some Colby the other day but it was made in New Zealand. I didn't think anyone would actually make that stuff outside  of the USA.

I also saw on the shelves of a supermarket spray-on cheese too.  No idea what flavour of cheese substitute that was - perhaps "cheese" flavour.   

Pickled cabbage and pickled chilis...one of the highlights of Hungary!   

Worst thing - Borscht - cabbage soup. Had some on Aeroflot. It was awful.  But a bit goulashy.

I always go for the hekk. I miss sea fish and this is nearly as good as cod. Pacal (tripe) I think is peculiar to Hungary and can be very tasty. Hurka is a bit like Scottish haggis or faggots and is one of my favourites. Kolbasz fried, eaten at a market stall is usually excellent. Langos is a filler and tasty with cheese and cream and garlic juice. I suppose savoury retes is unusual, potato or cabbage in puff pastry. Paprika pepper is sacred to Hungarian dishes though it was only introduced to the diet here about a hundred and fifty years ago.

Goose fat on bread is a rare, expensive delicacy, most Hungarian households have never seen it. Maybe duck fat. Traditionally it's spread so thin that a generic slice of bread with margarine would pose way more risk on your health than this. Or a bag of chips for that matter. Also, nowadays few people it it.
Lean bacon is a type of szalonna with very(sometimes almost nada) fat in it.
Bone soup is bone broth. You can buy it in cardboard boxes is the US named beef broth/chicken broth etc. I'm sure you find that WTF as well.
Dessert wines- no-one I know EVER drinks sweet Tokaji wine. It's for tourists. However we have amazing whites and reds all over the country, especially in the Balaton region, Eger, etc.
https://theculturetrip.com/europe/hunga … o-hungary/
Unicum is most often consumed with beer and I personally still find it less cough syrupy than Jegermaister.

Stella Kellner :

Goose fat on bread is a rare, expensive delicacy, most Hungarian households have never seen

Hm.... A neighbor of mine raises geese. I think half the village gets goose fat from him alone.

Are you sure you are not meaning rather Foie gras? Which is different, more rare and more expensive than just goose fat.

klsallee :
Stella Kellner :

Goose fat on bread is a rare, expensive delicacy, most Hungarian households have never seen

Hm.... A neighbor of mine raises geese. I think half the village gets goose fat from him alone.

Are you sure you are not meaning rather Foie gras? Which is different, more rare and more expensive than just goose fat.

I think goose fat is very common.  Mrs Fluffy likes it. 

Foie gras of HU origin, never seen that although I know where they are raising large numbers of geese but I don't think they are doing it for foie gras.

I think they are growing them for export (maybe), possibly further West for  Saint Martin's Day.

You are talking about a village. What's the population of that village? 5000? Vs about 9.5 million Hungarians... Over 2 million living in Budapest. I guess they don't have a neighbour raising geese. I believe you, they eat goose fat, it's a village where people raise poultry, but the majority of Hungarians live in towns and cities and buy their food in Tesco and CBA. I had kangaroo as a kid(without knowing it was kangaroo) because my father had access to rare "delicacies" in a store in rural Hungary(frozen). But I doubt that any of my peers had kangaroo ever in their childhood. You get my point.

Stella Kellner :

You are talking about a village. What's the population of that village? 5000? Vs about 9.5 million Hungarians... Over 2 million living in Budapest. I guess they don't have a neighbour raising geese. I believe you, they eat goose fat, it's a village where people raise poultry, but the majority of Hungarians live in towns and cities and buy their food in Tesco and CBA. I had kangaroo as a kid(without knowing it was kangaroo) because my father had access to rare "delicacies" in a store in rural Hungary(frozen). But I doubt that any of my peers had kangaroo ever in their childhood. You get my point.

I dunno about that.  I don't know how old you are but you will know that many HU people have/had relatives and friends in the countryside and those relatives used to be an important way of getting fruit and vegetables.

Everything seems to have worked on contacts - who you knew was important.  It's well known that during communist times, having land in the countryside to grow fruit and vegetables etc., was considered proper Hungarian life.  Obviously any spare output could be shared or even sold or perhaps swapped or bartered.   Hungarians still live by knowing someone who knows someone who has  or does whatever.  Back then it was the way of surviving before Tesco etc arrived.

It's all summed up by the famous pig slaughtering and sharing it out with the relatives from the city.   We (should) all know "Dezsőnek meg kell halnia".   

Anyways, getting goose fat from someone has never been a problem as far as I know.

That was about 50 years ago. Things are very different now.

I've had Goose fat on bread and it's inexpensive.

And therefore you concluded that most Hungarian households have it for breakfast?

Stella Kellner :

And therefore you concluded that most Hungarian households have it for breakfast?

I just stated that I've had it. I have also seen it a lot of times on menu's!

Stella Kellner :

That was about 50 years ago. Things are very different now.

Sure they are different but when I came here 20+ years ago, all of that was still going on.   People kept a couple of pigs in the back and these were dispatched and the pork divided up amongst the family.  This is how I know about "Dezsőnek meg kell halnia" (Dezső must die) and it's other variations/usages.

BTW, best to use the quote function so people know who you are replying to.

For tourists.

Stella Kellner :

For tourists.

Who's a tourist and here on this site?  No-one!

fluffy2560 :
Stella Kellner :

For tourists.

Who's a tourist and here on this site?  No-one!

I guess you could call me a tourist? 😂 🤔

Who is eating in a restaurant where they serve goose fats spread on bread? No local, trust me.

Stella Kellner :

Who is eating in a restaurant where they serve goose fats spread on bread? No local, trust me.

Sorry I don't trust you!

Stella Kellner :

Who is eating in a restaurant where they serve goose fats spread on bread? No local, trust me.

Long term residents or locals are unlikely to eat in "tourist restaurants" anyway. 

I'm pretty sure I've eaten in a HU restaurant where they've served it or it's been on the menu as an hors d'oeurve (US: appetiser) along with some salt but not as a main course (US: "entree" but wrong word usage in my view).   

Trofea Menu  doesn't show it but does show liver pâté.   

The pâté is good but I wouldn't eat goose fat myself however it was presented.

That's not really my problem.
https://theculturetrip.com/europe/hunga … n-hungary/

https://www.gfk.com/hu/aktualitasok/pre … -szokasok/

That's some statistics for you.

Stella Kellner :

You are talking about a village. What's the population of that village? 5000? Vs about 9.5 million Hungarians... Over 2 million living in Budapest. I guess they don't have a neighbour raising geese. I believe you, they eat goose fat, it's a village where people raise poultry, but the majority of Hungarians live in towns and cities and buy their food in Tesco and CBA. I had kangaroo as a kid(without knowing it was kangaroo) because my father had access to rare "delicacies" in a store in rural Hungary(frozen). But I doubt that any of my peers had kangaroo ever in their childhood. You get my point.

You are right. 7 million Hungarians live in villages, towns and cities that are not Budapest, and most don't have a neighbor that raises geese.

But, was at the local town today shopping. 16,000 population (big enough for you?). They had both goose fat and duck fat for sale in the very large butcher shop in town, and given how crowed it always is there, many (most?) people in that town I think buy their meet (and despite there is also a Tesco and a CBA in that town too). The goose fat was about 400 Ft and 550 ft for the duck fat. About 200 gram containers. Commercial product. Not home made.

I honestly have no idea how many buy or eat either. But you earlier saying, and again repeating, that goose fat is a rare, expensive delicacy is odd because it really is not any of those (and indeed, duck fat is more expensive there). So if you are wrong about that, you may also be wrong about how many people eat either in Hungary in general. You are entitled to your opinion of course. But not to your own facts. Just saying.

Stella Kellner :

the majority of Hungarians live in towns and cities and buy their food in Tesco and CBA.

And they can buy goose fat from CBA. And even have it delivered to their door via CBA's online sales site if they wish (bit more expensive than us country folks pay of course, but that is the premium you pay for convenience):

https://online.prima.hu/s/orsi-libazsir … cat=258020

But still cheaper than some cheeses. You want a real expensive product in Hungary? Real Parmesan.

Now this thread is about what Hungarians eat. They might cook with fat(less and less do as you can see it the article) but it’s just not a regular thing to eat fat or lard on bread. I’m sure some do but few and less and less. It might not be as expensive as parmesan but parmesan has never been part of traditional Hungarian cuisine so what’s the point in comparing. If you talk about what Hungarians eat today on a regular basis it’s worth doing some research into the topic. Lard on bread is not part of the average daily diet. They likely use more cream cheese on bread than lard although I do not know the statistics on that. I personally know people from Budapest and small and big towns and villages and even the ones in small villages are consuming less and less animal fat. I know this for a fact.

Stella Kellner :

Now this thread is about what Hungarians eat. They might cook with fat(less and less do as you can see it the article) but it’s just not a regular thing to eat fat or lard on bread. I’m sure some do but few and less and less. It might not be as expensive as parmesan but parmesan has never been part of traditional Hungarian cuisine so what’s the point in comparing. If you talk about what Hungarians eat today on a regular basis it’s worth doing some research into the topic. Lard on bread is not part of the average daily diet. They likely use more cream cheese on bread than lard although I do not know the statistics on that. I personally know people from Budapest and small and big towns and villages and even the ones in small villages are consuming less and less animal fat. I know this for a fact.

Going slightly off topic here, but where are you from Stella? You joined the this site 7 years ago but only just started posting. I find this very strange.

how is that relevant?

Stella Kellner :

how is that relevant?

Simple question!

“ You joined the this site 7 years ago but only just started posting. I find this very strange.“
How is it relevant where I am from? And why would you go and check on my activity and pass judgement on it? Why would you have to find it strange or normal or abnormal or anything at all?

Stella Kellner :

Now this thread is about what Hungarians eat. They might cook with fat(less and less do as you can see it the article) but it’s just not a regular thing to eat fat or lard on bread. I’m sure some do but few and less and less. It might not be as expensive as parmesan but parmesan has never been part of traditional Hungarian cuisine so what’s the point in comparing. If you talk about what Hungarians eat today on a regular basis it’s worth doing some research into the topic. Lard on bread is not part of the average daily diet. They likely use more cream cheese on bread than lard although I do not know the statistics on that. I personally know people from Budapest and small and big towns and villages and even the ones in small villages are consuming less and less animal fat. I know this for a fact.

I'm married to a Hungarian and I live in Hungary and like many others we've been here for years. 

But maybe we have alternative facts depending on where you come from.  We don't eat fat or lard on bread very often (me, never) but we live a suburban life in the burbs of Budapest. So we're city dwellers.   

People in the country probably eat goose or duck or pork fat more regularly but it's a personal choice. Cream cheese certainly isn't high on the list of things they eat out there.  We have connections to the countryside (agriculturalists and vets in the family) and we don't know anyone who produces their own cream cheese.   Goose fat would be more natural and preferable (and of course free) option for them.

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