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What Is Traditional Hungarian Food?

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During my most recent visit to Hungary I learned more about what traditional Hungarian food is. Hungarians make use of what is seasonal and many of the dishes focus on meats, fresh vegetables, and dairy products. I also learned that many of the traditional dishes have influences on them such as Jewish and Austrian cuisine.

During my most recent visit to Hungary I learned more about what traditional Hungarian food is. Hungarians make use of what is seasonal and many of the dishes focus on meats, fresh vegetables, and dairy products. I also learned that many of the traditional dishes have influences on them such as Jewish and Austrian cuisine.

During my most recent visit to Hungary I learned more about what traditional Hungarian food is. Hungarians make use of what is seasonal and many of the dishes focus on meats, fresh vegetables, and dairy products. I also learned that many of the traditional dishes have influences on them such as Jewish and Austrian cuisine.

During my most recent visit to Hungary, I learned much more about what makes traditional Hungarian food unique. Hungarians make use of seasonal foods, and many of the dishes focus on meats, fresh vegetables, and dairy products. I also learned that many traditional dishes are influenced by Jewish and Austrian cuisine.

And of course, Hungarian food can’t be discussed without mentioning paprika. Hungarians make heavy use of the spice, and it seems to make it’s way into almost every dish, especially those with a sauce.

In no particular order, I present to you my favorite in Hungarian food:

Pogásca is a popular savory bread, like a Hungarian version of the scone.

Pogásca - Traditional Hungarian Food

We had these several times at breakfast with strong coffee. Although they may not look heavy, they are typically quite dense and filling.

Flodni is a typical Hungarian-Jewish style cake. its four layers include apples, walnuts, poppy seeds, honey and plum jam.

Flodni - Traditional Hungarian Food

Those of you who, like me, don’t have a sweet tooth may still enjoy this cake. The walnuts and poppy seeds help even this dish out and make it less sweet.

Meggyleves is the one dish I admit I didn’t particularly care for during my walking food tour of Buda. However, it is a very traditional Hungarian food, and many people loved it, so I thought it should be included.

Meggyleves - Traditional Hungarian Food

The dish is a fruit soup served cold. Considered a summer delicacy, it is also sometimes referred to as sour cherry soup.

Resztelt máj, or liver and onions, may have surprised me the most, because I don’t typically enjoy liver.

Resztelt máj - Traditional Hungarian Food

But in this dish, the liver is fork tender, the onions are perfectly caramelized, and both are served in a gravy like sauce that goes so well with the potatoes.

You can’t talk about Hungarian food without mentioning goulash. The stew is made with meat, typically beef, vegetables, and a heavy dose of paprika in the sauce.

goulash - Traditional Hungarian Food

This version differed slightly from others, as it was served with spaetzle noodles, a possible Austrian influence I mentioned earlier.

Hungarians are proud of their Mangalica pork, and for good reason.

Mangalica pork - Traditional Hungarian Food

It is some of the best cured meat I’ve ever tasted. The pig is a Hungarian crossbreed of domestic pigs and wild boars.

Literally translated “Mangalica” means “hog with a lot of lard”- although it doesn’t sound healthy, it’s very delicious.

Cholent was easily my favorite dish from the Jewish Cuisine Walking Food Tour.

Cholent - Traditional Hungarian Food

While this stew is a traditional Jewish dish, because of Budapest’s large Jewish population, it has become a popular local specialty as well. The stew is made up of beans, barley, meat (this version was made with goose leg) and whole eggs.

To adhere to Jewish law, which doesn’t allow for cooking on the Sabbath, this dish is started on Friday afternoon and allowed to slowly cook overnight and eaten for lunch the next day. It’s a hearty meal and one I still crave.

Hungarians take their pastries and desserts very seriously. This pastry, which we enjoyed with with coffee for breakfast, was piled high with layers of flaky dough and a custard or pudding like filling and finished off with a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar. A bit sweet, but I loved the flaky crust.

Hungarians take their pastries and desserts very seriously.  Traditional Hungarian Food

This fruit tart was more to my liking. It also had a buttery crust, but is instead topped with fresh fruits baked to a chewy texture. I absolutely loved it.

fruit tart - Traditional Hungarian Food

I know I said that I wasn’t presenting this list in any particular order, but food wise, I have saved the best for last.

Langos was a borderline obsession for me and is quite possibly my new favorite Hungarian food. The dish is made up of fried bread with your choice of toppings.

Langos - Traditional Hungarian Food

Some prefer it plain, with only fried dough. Others rub garlic oil or put cream on theirs. Some like to add onions.

As you can see from my pic above, I like all of it at once! I wish this dish was healthier, because we ate it nearly every day, with, of course, an ice cold beer.

These were my favorite Hungarian dishes, but the list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning some local drinks as well.

Unicum, sadly, I didn’t love, but it is Hungary’s national drink and definitely bears mentioning.

Unicum - Traditional Hungarian Food

Unicum is an herbal drink drank as a digestive or aperitif and made from a secret recipe of more than forty herbs. It is aged in oak casks and, in my opinion tastes much like Jägermeister.

But I did love the Hungarian wines.

Hungarian wines - Traditional Hungarian Food

I feel Hungary is seriously overlooked as a producer of quality wines.

Hungary actually has 22 wine regions which together produce nearly 100 local wine varieties.

I took part in a tasting table experience with Taste Hungary that taught us much about the country’s wine production while giving us the opportunity to try some of the best bottles. I highly recommend joining them in their tasting room if you’re interested in wine tourism.


Have I convinced you to try Hungarian food? Which dish looked best to you? Let me know in the comments section below!

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Tricia vonTitte

Friday 5th of April 2019

That photo of so-called Goulash Is Not GULYASLEVES !

There is No Such dish as "GOULASH " in Hungary ! Hungarians are insulted by nonHungarians reference to Goulash.

Nathan

Friday 5th of April 2019

Tricia- thank you for the comment but my Hungarian tour guide helped me with this post and this is how he identified the dish and he did not seem insulted by the name.

Cindi Juliano

Tuesday 12th of September 2017

My Grandmother was born in Budapest, and immigrated , at 4 yrs old, In 1907 thru Ellis Island with her parents. Her family surname was Baranyay. Both her parents were Hungarian. Her mother from Nagykanizsa, Zala , Hungary and her father from Kald, Vas, Hungary. My mother learned to cook a Hungarian goulash with a recipe her mother learned by her mother. It was called Szeged ( pronounced Zay Gay) or Szekely Goulash. It was made with pork, Hungarian sweet paprika, butter, onion, garlic, caraway seed, bay leaf, sauerkraut and sour cream. It was a favorite of mine. Sauerkraut was something all of us kids grew up liking. I doubt if my kids would touch it. It may be an acquired taste...like liverwurst/braunsweiger.....which I also love! My bucket list includes a visit to Hungary someday. I have heard how beautiful it is. I would love the food there also I'm sure!

Szilvia

Tuesday 8th of May 2018

Dear Cindi,

So cool you grew up around Hungarian food :) Just one thing: the Zay Gay pronuncation is the one for the Székely (allthough the right way is like Say Cay). Szeged sounds like ... hmmmm it's tricky.

Say: "set". Now leave the "t". So you have now Se. Now say get. Seget.... Ok, replace the "t" with "d". Say it out loud. You've got now Seged (Szeged). :))

Fun fact!

Goulash in Hungarian is GULYÁS

Gulya (goula) is the word for the cattle herd and gulyás (goulash) is the person who herds them. (The Hungarian version of the American cowboys :))They were the first who made these soups while they were out with the herd.

And this is the reason why the true and real goulash is the one with the beef meat. Yes, we make it also with pork, but the real one is with beef.

Nathan

Wednesday 13th of September 2017

That's so amazing that you have a family link to Budapest! You must go visit one day- the city is gorgeous. And that dish your mother made sounds delicious. My mom also loves sauerkraut and I've never cared for it so maybe it is a generational thing! I really hope you get to make it there one day soon!

Paige Wunder

Tuesday 5th of September 2017

Yum! Many of these sound delicious. I would be more than happy to partake in their national drink - beer! The Pogásca and Langos intrigue me the most as far as the foods go!

Jessica M

Tuesday 5th of September 2017

This post took me back to my trip to Budapest. Hungarian food can be hearty but it's so rich and full of flavor. The food tour sounds like a great experience!

Megan Jerrard

Tuesday 5th of September 2017

Thanks for this introduction to Hungarian food – I’m always interested to learn more about the region and national cuisines from countries I haven’t yet been! Pogásca looks great, probably because I’m a big fan of the scone! And I would jump to try Flodni – looks so delicious with all those layers! Definitely looks like Hungarians know how to do desserts. Would be interesting to try their Mangalica pork too since it’s the best you’ve tasted :)

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