From Pickles to Paprika // Taste Hungary Culinary Walk
Our last day in Budapest was spent doing what Dan and I do best – eating! As you’ve probably gathered, if there’s one tour I always attempt to do, it’s one that involves the local cuisine (ahem, like in Paris, Amsterdam and Prague). For me, it’s the best periscope I can find that allows me to peek into the everyday life of locals in the most tangible way possible.
Dan and I joined Taste Hungary in the famous Great Market Hall (a must see in Budapest!) along with a few other American expats and our guide, Judit. With Judit’s warm and social demeanor, the other tourists and I got settled into the tour quickly. To kick things off, Judit distributed Unicum samples (tasting something similar to Jagermeister) while explaining the impressive history of the famous Great Market Hall in which we were standing.
With the tour underway, all of us already feeling warmed up by the Unicom, we proceeded around the upper perimeter of the building, passing zillions of Hungarian calories as we walked. At our first stop we huddled around as table as Judit distributed samples of Langos, fried dough topped with cheese and cream. It reminded me a bit like a savory funnel cake. Understandably, our group quickly gobbled down multiple slices.
Note: While there are an endless variety of toppings available, Judit advised that locals stick with cream and cheese only!
As the tour proceeded down the main hall of the market it became quickly apparent that this building was far from a tourist hangout. Hungry Budapestians whirled by us with bags of produce, fresh meats and jars of pickled products. This was local’s territory.
Moving on, we dropped in a popular lunchtime spot with the young professionals of the city. We began with a melt-in-your-mouth/this-is-the-best-I’ve-ever-had bowl of paprika spiced chicken noodle soup, then proceeded on with a honestly monsterous serving of hurka and kolbasz sausages, potato salads, pickles and chips. With a touch of paprika in nearly every bit, we quickly learned that it’s a favorite with Hungarians.
Judit conceded that she honestly wasn’t sure how people are able to go back to work after this rather normal sized mega meal.
Now fighting my desire to find a couch, snooze and digest, we moved on to an adorable Artisan chocolate shop called Zangio.
I quickly found room for tasting multiple chocolatey wafers.
Our next stop, a bit more leisurely, was at a cozy coffee house for a sampling of Hungarian cakes and mugs of coffee. Our group quietly chatted about our travels and I gushed about our recent visit to the baths.
After all of the protein, fried dough, chocolate and cakes, there is only one natural conclusion – a glass (or three) of wine to wash it all down! We beelined it to Taste Hungry’s eclectic Tasting Table with wine in mind. As Judit poured generous glasses, we learned about the unique geography of Hungry that’s aided in the international success of it’s vineyards. Paired with Hungarian cheeses, I quickly slurped up sweet Tokaji white wine followed by a gorgeous red, graphically called ‘Bull’s Blood’.
I was in Hungarian gastronomic bliss.
You guessed it. After the food crawl (seems like an appropriate thing to call it!) Dan and I sauntered back to our Airbnb for the longest, most delightful nap imaginable.
Cheers to Taste Hungary for having us. If you’re a foodie, or wanna-be foodie like me, this is a surefire way to truly experience the best bites in Budapest. Two recommendations: arrive moderately starving and drink lots of water!