• Rutabaga, Celery, Dill, & Smoked Chicken Soup
  • Matcha Whoopie Pies with Sakura Buttercream Filling
  • Chicken with Oyster Mushrooms, Portobellos, & Napa Cabbage
  • Mushroom Chicken Pie
  • Pistachio Wasabi Beets
  • Sichuan Chili Oil, and variety of cold-chicken-based lunches
  • Lemony Pea and Radish Salad with Mint
  • The Fort Greene
  • East African Sweet Pea Soup
  • Lazy, Rustic, Haphazard, and Amazing Sour Cherry Pies
  • Malaysian Chicken Satay
  • The Wildman’s iPhone App
  • Welsh Cakes with Dried Apricots and Candied Ginger
  • Farmhouse Pork with Black Beans and Green Peppers (and Trotter Gear)
  • Black Pepper Tofu with Pork
  • Peposo
  • Toasted Hazelnut Chai
  • Kentucky Coffee Spread
  • Banana Guacamole
  • Spicy Shrimp with Wine Rice
  • Double Ginger Chocolate Chunk Scones
  • Artichoke and Blood Orange Salad (with frisee, parsley, and cardamom)
  • Chevre Truffles
  • Clementine Sassafras Ice Cream
  • Jack is Closed (but you can vote for our pie on Sunday)
  • Our Wedding
  • Pecan Mole
  • Son-in-Law Eggs
  • Saffron Turmeric Cake with Meyer Lemon Sorbet, Argan Oil Whipped Cream, Almond Brittle, and Thyme
  • My Triumphant Return, with a Book Giveaway!

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Hungarian Food in Hungary

I flew into Budapest, then traveled with Dave to Pécs, Szeged, and Debrecen. In Debrecen, we met up with my grandmother and mother, who drove us up to the pair of small villages near the Ukrainian border where my grandmother grew up. She was born in Tarpa, and when she returned from Auschwitz and got married, she lived just across the Tisza river in Kisar. We met my father and brothers there, and a host of very kind people who knew my grandmother from when she was a child and a young woman.

I have too many food-related photos from this trip, so I plan to take the ones from the Tarpa/Kisar portion of the journey and put them up in a separate post. For now, though, the foodie photos from the rest of the trip.

The photo above is of the single best cake I tasted in Hungary, at the Zsolnay cafe in the Radisson hotel in Budapest. It was mostly made up of layers of marzipan and chocolate mousse, with perhaps a small amount of very thin layers of chocolate sponge cake in between.

On the whole, I did not much like the Hungarian cakes served at the confectionaries. They seemed like good ideas, but poorly implemented and far too dry. The ice cream creations were much better. Below are the dishes Dave and I ordered at Virág in Pécs. I had chocolate and vanilla ice cream, chestnut puree, cherries, and cherry liquor.

He had pear ice cream, some other sort of ice cream, more pears, more liquor. Everywhere we went, we found these extravagant things. And every time I ordered one, I had them add chestnut puree to it. My parents love to eat chestnut puree straight from the can, with sour cream and sometimes jam, but I never realized that it was a Hungarian thing until this trip. I loved the abundance of chestnut puree on every dessert menu.

At a festival winding through the Buda castles, we ate this traditional cylindrical Hungarian faire food, which is called kürtőskalács (pronounced kewr-teu-ska-lach).

The dough is wrapped around a roller, coated in some sort of egg yolk, honey, sugar mix, and roasted.

Once it is cooked through, it is removed from the roller and coated in the additional topping of your choice. The choices usually seemed to include cinnamon, vanilla, walnut, and coconut.

I found the cinnamon to be particularly tasty.

Fresh peppers are called paprika, too. As are pickled ones. I really liked the squatness of these, which reminded me somehow of pattypan squash.

We found many sausage purveyors throughout the country, and at every one I asked in my pidgin Hungarian, “cserkészkolbász?” My mother and grandmother go to a Hungarian butcher on 81st St. and 2nd Ave. in Manhattan to buy their Hungarian sausage, and the cserkészkolbász (pronounced chair-case-kohl-bahs) is my favorite. It is very thin, and not too spicy, and very flavorful. My grandmother tells me that cserkész is a group sort of like the boy scouts, so really the kolbász I adore is boy scout sausage.

It turned out to be very difficult to find in Hungary. I found something similar (in texture if not in flavor) at the Pick market in Szeged, which translated to “snack sausage”. It was milder, but also very good.

When Dave, my brother Jordan, and I finally met up with Zsofi, she took us to the central market in Budapest, where we finally found some kiscserkészkolbász (a smaller variant of precisely what I had been looking for during the prior week and a half). I cannot express my appreciation enough.

Zsofi, whose beautiful blog is written sometimes in English and sometimes in Hungarian, really made the last few days of our trip. She recommended some fabulous restaurants we never would have found on our own, and they stood out among the unfortunately salty food we had been eating throughout the rest of the country.

I brought her a few food magazines in English, and she gave me several in Hungarian. It was such a delight to finally meet another food blogger, who understood why I had to stop and take photos throughout the market. I can’t wait for her to come to New York so I can show her my favorite foodie spots in my city.

When Dave and I were in Debrecen and had met up with part of my family at last, we all went out for dinner at a place recommended by one of my grandmother’s old friends. The waiter turned out to have lived in NYC, and his mother was still living there. He and my mother got to chatting. As I don’t speak Hungarian, I couldn’t really follow their conversation. I figured they were discussing everyone’s favorite Hungarian butcher in NYC, the one at 81st and 2nd, because I caught the word hentes (pronounced hentesh), which is how my family has always referred to the place.

When they were done chatting, I asked my mother if that was what they had been speaking about. No, she said. They had been discussing 9/11, and how worried he had been about his mother when it happened. I was surprised, and asked her why then had I heard them saying hentes.

“Hentes means butcher,” she explained.

These next few photos were taken at the food market in Debrecen, the second largest city in Hungary. It is in the east, in the middle of the Great Plain. The food served in the Debrecen restaurants was far closer to what I had expected than the food served at the south end of the country. Finally, stuffed cabbage was on the menu, though it was not made the way my grandmother makes it.

We saw weights such as these for sale at a flea market in Budapest. I was awfully tempted to purchase a set, but I have no scale at home, nor reason to use them.

The last photos I have for you here were taken at a county fair in a small village in the northeast, not too far from the villages where my grandmother grew up and the Ukrainian border.

I spent the entire trip trying to think of an excuse to buy some of these fabulous hanging pots and pans, and perhaps a way to carry them home. I failed. Perhaps I should have bought one to use for a Hungarian picnic in Prospect Park?

The woman in the pink shirt in the top left corner of the next photo, mostly obscured by the woman in front of her, is my grandmother. She makes marvelous cabbage strudel, which is sweeter and more delicious than you could possibly expect. She was watching a group of women at the county fair making cabbage strudel to cook and sell there.

The best thing about their way of doing it was how they started off rolling the dough. They stretched it out very thin on a towel, and spread the cabbage mixture loosely across it. Once that was properly set up, the women would gently lift the towel on both sides, and the dough would roll up inwards of its own accord, swiftly and smoothly, creating these perfectly delicate tubes of strudel. They then finished the job with hand and knife.

I was too full at that point to actually eat their cabbage strudel. This may well remain one of my great regrets in life.

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14 Responses to “Hungarian Food in Hungary”

  1. cruststation says:

    Amazing photos, I especially love the desserts :)

  2. Great pictures, Danielle!! I think, you should’ve bought one of those small hanging pots at the market:)
    It was really nice to meeting you, take care, Zsofi

  3. Anita says:

    What a fascinating post! I have a cookbook on eastern european pastries I’ve never tried, but they all look very interesting!

  4. Danielle says:

    Thanks, cruststation!

    Zsofi, I tell ya what. If you want to get one for me and mail it to me, I will pick up whatever you like from around here and mail it to you. Interested?

    Anita, I’d love to see your interpretation of eastern european pastries. In your hands, I’m sure they would become something wonderful and new. Please do give them a try!

  5. Bron says:

    Fantastic post Danielle, thanks so much for sharing!

  6. Tanya says:

    Thank you for Hungary! I love Budapest, I love the cuisine. Kürtőskalács is indeed a great treat. I wouldn`t say we came across “the unfortunately salty food” too often, more to that most of the central restaurants are very touristy thus the food leaving much to be desired. However, we managed to find places serving really delicious traditional food. Mmmm, still we seem to have missed something…chestnut puree. Isn`t that the reason to visit Budapest this Christmas?

  7. Cin says:

    the kürtőskalács look like the trdlo that we had in prague:

    i love the photos of all the women joining in to make the cabbage strudel!

  8. Christine says:

    Thank you for taking us on a fun journey through Hungary with you. I enjoyed it immensely! Love your pictures. :)

  9. John Cowan says:

    Just looked at this site. My wife is Hungarian and we went to Hungary in 2004. I had the cabbage strudel in Eger. Looking at your photos has brought our next trip from Australia back to Hungary much closer. Lecso, langos etc yuummm.

  10. Judy says:

    Very cool! Does anyone have any idea where to purchase Hungarian sausage (somewhere that will send them to Canada)??? We moved from Toronto to a smaller city a few years back, we’re Hungarian (2nd generation), but can’t get anything authentic here…. Thanks!

  11. kathy says:

    can you tell me is it possible to purchace one of the hanging pots by ordering it from the uk
    or can you only buy them in hungary.

  12. kathy says:

    can you tell me is it possible to purchace one of the hanging pots by ordering it from the uk
    or can you only buy them in hungary.

  13. [...] I also found that another one of my favorite foodbloggers has some experience with kurtoskalacs! Check out the photos and description at Habeas Brulee. [...]

  14. Angela says:

    Please let me know what kind of wood do I need to make the roller.

    Many thanks in advance.


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