Hungarian cuisine is world famous for its spicy and full flavours. Although Hungarian cuisine is not too varied regarding the ingredients used, its selection of unique and sometimes unusual meals still rank it among the most exciting gastronomic cultures. And, of course, let us not forget about drinks, either! Hungary is the cradle of the pure fruit brandy, the so-called "pálinka", which is generally made using juicy and aromatic fruit. Do not miss the chance to taste the unsurpassed products of Hungarian cuisine while you are staying in Mosonmagyaróvár for your dental treatment!
In the following sections you can read about what meals and drinks you can try in Hungary.
The most important ingredients of Hungarian cuisine are onions, paprika, potatoes and pork lard. Paprika is usually used in a dried and ground form, and it is common to use slightly hot or spicy hot paprika instead of the sweet version. If you go to a restaurant, be careful, and feel free to ask if the meal you have ordered will be spicy hot or not. As for pork lard, it is nowadays replaced with vegetable oil in most places for the sake of healthy eating, thus you do not need to worry about the unhealthy effects of too much fat. Hungarian cuisine prefers spices and herbs such as black pepper, marjoram, rosemary, tarragon and parsley, this latter being used fresh.
As far as main courses are concerned, stew and goulash should be mentioned in the first place, which UNESCO declared part of the World Heritage. Both meals are prepared with onions, red paprika, lard and meat. Goulash is made with beef first and foremost but never with poultry. However, stew can also be made with pork and poultry. Actually, stew is a kind of ragout with lots of sauce and meat, which is eaten with noodles, dumplings or potato side-dish. Goulash is a little thinner than the ragout, contains more liquid, and it is rich in fresh vegetables, carrots, parsnips and potatoes. Another typical main course is Palots soup, which is very similar to goulash, but it is thickened with sour cream and flavoured with vinegar.
Letcho is another Hungarian speciality. It is prepared with lots of pepper slices, fresh tomatoes and onions. These vegetables are fried on bacon lard, and sometimes sausage slices are added to them. Letcho is eaten with eggs, rice and bread as a main dish, and apart from this, it often serves as a basic ingredient for various dishes.
Fish dishes are worth mentioning when talking about main dishes. In Hungary the stew-like ragout can also be prepared with fish, which is called fish paprika. It is usually served with noodles topped with cottage cheese. Fish soup plays a significant role, which is a kind of soup made with fish and paprika, but it is prepared in different ways in different areas.
Starters and desserts
Hungarian cuisine does not feature starters; instead, various kinds of soup are served before the main course. Soups can be really varied; they can be made with vegetables, carrots, parsnips, kohlrabi, celeries, French beans and potatoes, or, in some cases, cooked noodles. These are tasty, light soups, the ideal replacements of starters. Distinguished among soups, chicken souprich in vegetables is most often served with vermicelli. Restaurants often serve soup in a cup, but it also happens that it comes in a bowl, and the guests should decide how much they eat of it.
Vegetable sauces are very similar to soups. To prepare them, you need to cook one type of vegetables – green peas, potatoes, French beans, beans, etc. – in water till they are soft, and then you thicken the dish with some thickening (a little flour fried on some oil, with some paprika added), or with the mixture of sour cream and some flour.
If you still choose to eat a starter, it can be a Hungarian-style cold platter with a selection of cheese, sausages, ham and fresh vegetables, perhaps some goose liver in its own lard, or some pancakes filled with chicken, the so-called pancakes Hortobágy style.
Desserts also include pancakes but they are sweet, and filled with jam, vanilla curd with raisins, walnuts and poppy seed. Gundel pancakes are the most typical Hungarian dessert. They are rum-walnut pancakes served with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Sponge cake á la Somló is also a whipped cream dessert with rum, ground walnut and jam, which is prepared using sponge cake, chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Dobos cake is also characteristic with layers of mellow sponge cake filled with chocolate butter cream, topped with some thin caramel slices.Gerbaud cake is also a dessert with rum, ground walnut and jam covered with chocolate.
The Hungarians have regarded themselves as a wine drinking nation for centuries, and they are very proud of their wines produced in their various wine regions. At least two of them are remarkable even on the international stage. Tokay Aszú is grown in the Tokay wine region. This especially aromatic dessert wine is worthily renowned all over the world. Its taste is probably similar to that of late-harvest wines, but due to its unique flavour it cannot be mistaken for any other wine. The other significant wine region is Villány Wine Region, where excellent Mediterranean types of red wines and rosés are produced.
Apart from wines, the Hungarians are also very keen on pálinka. Pálinka is a fruit brandy with high alcohol content. People have been making it themselves using private distilling equipment for centuries. The pálinka products available in shops and restaurants are guaranteed to be of top quality. Of Hungarian drink specialities, the most famous product is Zwack Unicum. This spicy herbal liqueur was used for healing purposes in the old times.