Five (Hungarian) things to eat before you die
Now, I’m so late with this one. Melissa at the wonderful The Travelers Lunchbox started this huge joint project called „Things to eat before you die” already a month ago. She asked all foodbloggers to name five things that they’ve eaten and think that everyone should eat at least once before they die. Many people were complaining that the most challenging thing was to actually restrict our contributions to FIVE items, that’s really so hard. In the meantime that list has grown to an amazing 1505 food items contributed by almost 300 foodbloggers from all over the world – it contains different items from as simple as a good bread or a good olive oil to more exotic stuff like prahok, the Cambodian fermented fish paste or oysters. Go and check-out that list. I’ve been also tagged by Johanna for this one and as the list could serve also as a kind of global food guide, I’m of course adding items from my own cuisine:HUNGARIAN to it. Here it goes:
This is what we are most famous for. To be honest, I could immediately easily name five of these (and much more) but that would be just too simple. All of our sweets are absolutely fantastic but it’s not always easy to find the very best of it, there is a lot of mediocre food like everywhere. The most known cake is probably Dobos torta, a layered chocolate cake with a crunchy caramel topping, however I personally prefer another one: Eszterházy torta, which is a walnut sponge cake filled with a walnut creme and topped with a sweet icing. By the way the best cakes in Budapest are sold at the patisserie called DAUBNER (it’s located totally outside of the touristy area, it's a bit time consuming to get there, but really worth the effort. They are doing very well without a website). The second choice would be a strudel with sourcherry filling. Or cottage cheese. Or maybe poppyseed. (For this one I go early in the morning when they are freshly made to a place called SZALAY cukrászda near the Parliament) And I could of course go on with palacsinta (crepes), túrógombóc (cottage cheese dumplings), mákos guba (poppyseed bread&butter pudding), but I’m already cheating.
2. Hungarian goose foie gras –prepared Hungarian style
Did you know that Hungary is the world's second-greatest foie gras producer (after France of course) and the largest exporter of it? Large part (more then the half in fact) of the French goose liver import comes from Hungary –French companies then spice, process, and cook the foie gras and sell it as a French product. You will find foie gras on Hungarian restaurant menus prepared in the common way –as a paté, pan-seared or roasted, served with brioche, fruits and sweet wines. But if you have the chance, please try it once the other way: In Hungary, we like to fry the goose foie gras (which we can get fresh at the market) in goose fat, which is seasoned with some paprika and garlic, then poured over the foie gras and left to cool. We eat it with fresh white bread, sliced red onions and tomatoes.
PS. Production is not banned in Hungary (and it’s not likely to happen because it’s a tradition and thousands of farmers depend on it), so come to Budapest to have some!
3. A proper Hungarian goulash
I mean the real stuff. Hot and spicy, made with real, good quality Hungarian paprika, white peppers, good tomatoes and pork fat. Preferably cooked at someones home.
4. Pickled cucumbers (kovászos uborka)
In the summer, almost every single family will prepare its own homemade pickled cucumbers (or buy it at the market). Boiling salted water is poured over them, they are seasoned with garlic and dill and a few slices of white bread will help the fermentation process. It’s a seasonal delicacy as hot weather is needed. To be eaten ice cold, crunchy, delicious!
5. Homemade chicken soup cooked with parsley root
As I live in Belgium, Brussels at the moment, if I could name a sixth item, right now it would be fresh mussels cooked in white wine with tons of garlic and parsley. I just can’t get enough of them when they are in season.