Hungarian cuisine primarily centres around meats, seasonal vegetables, fruits, fresh bread, dairy products and cheeses. Perhaps the most famous of all Hungarian dishes is goulash, a soup of beef, potatoes, and vegetables with plenty of paprika and spices. It often contains gravy and can be quite thick in consistency. Stews and casseroles are particularly popular and paprika is commonly used. Meat and vegetable-filled dumplings appear as a side dish though make a tasty snack at any time of day.
A complete three-course meal will always start with a soup. Root vegetables and beans are combined with meat to create a hearty soup and Hungary is particularly known for its Fisherman's Soup, a paprika-spiced broth that features river-caught fish and is traditionally made outside over a fire. Cold fruit soups are also popular, especially meggyleves, a sour cherry soup.
Hungarians like their pastries and have their own variety of strudel, known as rétes. Another popular sweet treat is flódni, a layered pastry that contains walnut, apple, poppyseed and jam. Cheese finds its way into dessert with túrógombóc, sweetened cheese dumplings served with vanilla sauce or sour cream and sugar, and túró rudi, a chocolate bar filled with sweetened cheese.
Dating back to Roman times, Hungarian wines are world-class with several varieties of grape having originated in Hungary. The most famous of Hungary's wine is the sweet tokaji and the dark, full-bodied Bull's Blood. Herbal bitters and brandies are also popular in Hungary, as is beer, which has been brewed in the country for thousands of years.
Safe eating while travelling in Hungary
Hungary has very good hygiene standards so travellers have an extremely low risk of getting sick whilst on holiday. Nevertheless, basic precautions still apply and you should avoid eating anything that looks old or like it might not have been cooked thoroughly (especially meat and fish). A good rule of thumb is to look for busy restaurants or a queue of locals outside – people don’t wait for food without a good reason.