Hungarian cooking is actually quite difficult to define. It frequently uses paprika, black pepper and onion. Potatoes are also commonly used in many types of meal. There are two remarkable elements of Hungarian cuisine that locals take no or little notice of but which seem quite unusual to foreigners. One is known as “főzelék” (various vegetables prepared in a special way, served cooked and bearing some similarity to a very thick soup) and the other one is soup itself prepared in different kinds of ways. Hungarian cuisine offers a bunch of soups from vegetables or meats or both. These soups come in creamy types, as fresh fruit soups and also as heavy meat soups.
In Hungary, a typical breakfast may consist of fresh bread, cold sausage type minced meat products (such as kolbász or szalámi), some vegetables or jam. Lunch is the major meal of the day, usually consisting of three courses: soup is followed by a main dish and a dessert. What is locally referred to as ‘salad’ is absolutely different from your notion of salad in that it usually means pickled vegetables eaten along with the main course (in Hungarian these are called “savanyúság”). Green salad is not part of the traditional Hungarian cuisine. Normally, dinner is far less significant a meal than lunch. It is a bit like breakfast, consisting mainly of a cold meal.
And if you feel like having a drink after a good meal, taste one of the fine Hungarian wines. Hungary has 22 wine regions, and the most well-known among foreigners are the Tokaj, Villány, Balaton Highland and Eger regions, but it is also worth visiting other regions for their local special wines. Typical wine types of the country are kékfrankos (Blaufränkisch), olaszrizling (Welsh Riesling), zöldveltelini, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon. Hungarians like drinking fröccs especially in summer, which is white or rosé wine mixed with fresh soda water, also known as wine spitzer. If you like short drinks, you should not miss the famous Unicum and pálinka, either.
Mákos guba (dumplings with poppy seed )
Ingredients (serves 4 people):
Slice up the crescent rolls or croissants, and leave them to dry. Boil the milk. Mix the egg yolks with the 2 oz sugar, and pour the mixture to the boiling milk. Add some of the seeds inside the vanilla stick. If the milk is boiling, finish boiling and let it cool. Grease a tin with butter, and pre-heat the oven (180 °C). Dip the pieces of the croissants in the milk, but just for a short while, and then place them on the bottom of the tin. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, and pour 2 or 3 tablespoons of honey on it. Repeat the whole procedure at least two times, and cover the cake with poppy seeds and honey. Put it in the oven and bake it for 20 minutes at 180 °C. Now you can enjoy your mákos guba.
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