Traditional Hungarian Cuisine
To taste the full flavour of Hungary’s traditional cuisine, one must consider the country’s past, as the mixture of Slavic, German, Italian and Asiatic components have all added their different tastes to the melting pot. Nomadic traditions gave rise to a predilection for meat dishes and soups and stews cooked over a campfire. Goulash or Gulyás is our national dish, but here it is a soup. The stew that most people associate with Hungary is actually called pörkölt. Imported herbs like garlic and vegetables like aubergine and cabbage, gave rise to stuffed vegetable dishes, Germanic influences from Austria can still be seen in the fancy cream cakes, strudel and even wiener schnitzel, which is very prevalent here too. The differences between the terrain and climate of regions of the country have also contributed and for example, the Fish, especially catfish from Lake Balaton are heavily-used. The sunny southern great plain grows great vegetables, such as strong onions and fiery chilli peppers, the origin of the spice paprika, which plays such an important part in nearly every Hungarian dish.
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Hungarian Gastronomy today
New flavours are filtering into Hungarian kitchens nowadays. Though traditional tastes will always persevere, they are often being adapted and fused into new, fresh creations, often in a lighter, healthier and more experimental form.
The chefs and restaurants at the forefront of this movement are gaining renown and while a couple of years ago only Austrian Gault & Millau restaurant guide devoted some appreciative words to a handful of Hungarian restauranteurs, today Budapest is proud to have four high-class restaurants honoured with a Michelin star: Costes, Onyx and Bórkonyha and most recently Tanti. There are also new horizons in Drinks, with new experimental forms of the strong spirit Pálinka, which is even included in some creations such as apple Pálinka soup!
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