The second instalment of our food tour around the world, this time from Kiera. All to find out; what is Hungarian food like?
As the Salted Orange holiday week came around once again, on one of the hottest weeks of the year, Kiera and Pav jetted off to do some exploring away from the unit! Kiera to Budapest and Pav to Croatia (which seemed rather more relaxing!). This blog will tell you all about Budapest and the food you can expect to find in the city.
Like most people, I was apprehensive about whether I would enjoy Hungarian food, so I booked a food tour to get the inside scoop on the food and lifestyle with a lovely local lady called Orsolya. Don’t get me wrong, I love food, but I lead a predominantly vegetarian life and the thought of strange meat items makes me feel a little queasy. That’s the reason I brought my boyfriend, the human vacuum cleaner who makes all the foods I don’t like disappear, just in case.
A Segway tour around the Castle District on the green side of the city seemed like a great idea until I realised how difficult they are to operate, especially up the steep hills and in the cobbly historical areas! However, the views were well worth it and I did survive in the end. Despite my best efforts with a Berlitz guide, my Hungarian was incredibly poor but luckily many people speak English, especially as the city has been overrun with tourists in the last 5 years. Day 1 was the day we realised that it is pronounced Buda-pesht and that on side is Buda and the other side of the river is Pest! I played it safe on the food front, saving myself for the food tour on Day 2, however I can highly recommend chimney cones which are a kind of pastry in the shape of a cone (funnily enough) and are sometimes dipped in sugar/cinnamon and filled with ice cream (obviously I got everything). FYI these are supposedly best from metro stations. A trip on the Budapest Eye and a few bars in the evening and I am ready for my un-air-conditioned, noisy, orange hostel.
The food tour commenced inside a shopping centre which was a welcome 5 minutes with air con in the 34-degree heat! We gathered in a small group of mainly Americans, with a couple of Australians thrown in, all questioning “What is Hungarian food like?”. Everyone was lovely and luckily hungry as we could not have prepared for the amount of food that Orsolya gave us over the course of 2 hours.
We started in a fresh market which also had a few small food outlets upstairs. Markets are an incredibly important part of Hungarian living and everything was grown/reared within the country. There is a market in all of the 23 districts, including the more famous, Great Market Hall. There are ample fruit and vegetables, some of which I had never seen before and of course, plenty of meat from all parts of the animal! Tiny bakeries are also plentiful and we start with a cheese scone and cabbage pastry (nicer than it sounds and you can’t escape cabbage in Hungary anyway). We then move on to some fresh apricots which were delightful and try multiple sausages and cheeses. I have never seen so many sausages in my life.
Then on to the main sit-down event which included a classic paprikash, goulash, dumplings and a few other things I can’t remember the name of but included; some sort of giant cous cous with sausage (of course), some slimey cabbage pasta, and turkey gizzard soup. I feel like I’m not really selling it to you, but a lot of it was actually quite nice, although I didn’t get on well with certain textures and chewy meat parts.
I felt much safer when we took the bus to some dessert places and had my first experience of strudel, cottage cheese and apricot strudel, but strudel nonetheless! A little strange but it worked! Then to a chocolate shop that has since filled my daydreams whilst filing. I have never seen so many intricate chocolates and well over 50% contained flavoured alcohol. If only I could’ve brought some back to the office but they would have melted before we even got to the final stop, a wine bar a few streets over. We chatted with the other travellers for almost an hour and of course, Brexit and Trump came up… leading to more wine drinking I’m sure.
Feeling quite plump, we decided to do the hike up to the Citadella and Gellert Hill for the best view of the city and surprisingly, my first experience of proper marzipan in coconut and strawberry flavour.
On the final day we were rather sleepy but still determined to get the most out of the trip and see as much as possible! I explored more of the sights, ventured into a couple more markets including the Great Market Hall, and then tried some Langos which is a deep fried circular bread that is usually garlicy and covered in sour cream plus cheese. Sour cream is something you just cannot avoid and is in everything! I think Orsolya said it was because butter had become so expensive due to a lack of supply (and tbf I didn’t see any cows).
Then we went to the zoo in a beautiful park because why not and got too hot so had no choice but to have a large quantity of ice cream… We ended our trip there and got the train to Vienna for a whirlwind trip! I apologise Sam because I was rather grumpy and sleepy on the Monday morning but it was well worth it and I recommend both cities to anyone reading this who is looking for somewhere to travel for 2-3 days.
More information about the food tour I did can be found here: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/experiences/161717