If you really want to get to know a city like Budapest, you can’t return home without familiarizing with its cuisine.
A huge part of visiting a country or a specific city is to get to know every aspect of that place. You certainly can’t get to know the whole of Budapest in only a few days, unless your holiday lasts for a few months, but you can do your best. Other than running from one sight to another and meeting the history of Budapest, you might want to give its tradition a chance.
If you really want to get to know a city like Budapest, you can’t return home without familiarizing with its tradition, and a great part of every tradition is certainly the cuisine. The cuisine is what kept an entire nation alive through all the history. It’s something that, in a way, defines the whole country and its ways of life while it shows what people like and dislike, it shows a quirky side of a nation with its strange meals that you never thought about eating and it shows what kind of people they really are.
You might have never thought about food as being this profound and giving away so much, but it really is like that. You can tell a lot if, let’s say, a national meal is vegetarian or if it’s made of pigeon meat. You can draw your own conclusions.
Take a culinary tour
There are many interesting tours to take in Budapest, like a biking tour, but a culinary tour will help you get to know the cuisine without going through much trouble of actually researching and discovering by yourself. The walking tour shows you two sides of Budapest – a traditional side with the extensive use of paprika and pork meat, but also the more modern side with its specialized food shops and high-quality products.
You will get to know the history of the Central Market Hall which is the largest and oldest market hall in Budapest. You will also visit many bars, shops and pubs, like soup bars, kosher bakeries, chocolate shops and traditional coffee shops. There is a chance you might run out of storage space in your stomach in the middle of this tour, so make sure not to eat at least a day or so before the tour.
Traditional meals vs. modern meals
One of the most well-known Hungarian meals has to be goulash. Goulash is a stew made of meat and vegetables, seasoned with paprika and many other spices. There is almost no tavern in Budapest (or even wider for that matter) that doesn’t make goulash and most of the times it will be awesome.
However, Budapest has much more to offer than just a simple goulash, even though goulash isn’t that easy to make. In recent years, Budapest has seen a growth in high-quality restaurants, some of which were even rewarded with Michelin stars. There are modern restaurants that focus on contemporary cuisine, traditional that only focus on old-fashioned cooking and there are those that combine these two. For example, Onyx combines both sides and is Michelin-starred. It serves a great mixture of modernity and tradition, while its stuff goes through a tough training before they are actually allowed to cook.
If your stomach is full already, you won’t like what’s coming next – the sweet stuff. Budapest is known for great manufacture of cakes, candies and ice-creams, and if you have a sweet tooth you can always run into the first bakery you can see. Wide range of cakes will make your head dizzy and incredible taste of Hungarian ice-cream will leave you wanting for more. Be careful not to get hooked to that stuff.
Drinking in Budapest
Budapest has an exquisite nightlife so, if drinking is your thing, you can just go out after it gets dark and walk into the first bar you come across. You will surely have a good time and drink new and exciting drinks. If this is not what you like and you just want to have a little taste of Hungary’s drinking habits, you can do this in the culinary tour. You will visit many restaurants and bars, so just go for it.
Beer and wine are popular in Hungary, but they are not exactly traditional drinks. Beer even less than wine, as Hungarian beers are average at best. However, there are around 20 wine regions in Hungary and you can find some of the best Hungarian wines right in Budapest. They make top-notch wines there, but some don’t come in cheap and you can find them in some of the numerous Budapest wine bars and restaurants.
The most famous spirit to come from Hungary has to be Pálinka which is essentially a fruit bandy, most commonly made from plum, pear or apricot. Pálinka can be consummated as a shot, like tequila for instance, or it can be sipped. However, some types, especially homemade ones, can be too strong for shooters, so sipping is recommended. Other famous Hungarian drinks include Unicum, an herbal liquor similar to Jägermeister, and Fröccs, something similar to spritzer which is a mixture of water and wine, while Fröccs is a mixture of wine and soda water. Soda water is supposed to keep you hydrated and help you live through the hangover that will come the next morning, but, if you drink too much, water will certainly not save you from the horrors of hangover.