Budapest: Lángos and Linen
These are two well-known and popular things to buy in Budapest (and Hungary) and a great place to find them is at the Great Market Hall (Nagyvasarcsarnok—I wonder how you pronounce that?!). I’ll put up more pictures from the market soon.
Hand-embroidered linen cloths of all shapes and sizes are gorgeous. They are often very bright with lots of red and green (the national colors of Hungary), but there are also white-on-white designs. Besides the embroidery design/’picture’, many of the cloths also have a cut-away design, which is then embroidered in white, making them look almost lacey. This style of embroidery has been handed down over the centuries in Hungary, and older versions are much sought after by collectors.
Upstairs at the market there are many vendors of these lovely cloths, and they seemed quite happy to show us some of their designs. We really enjoyed wandering around, just looking. Nath especially liked the bright floral designs. The genuinely hand-embroidered ones tend to be rather expensive, and in the end we decided we couldn’t really afford one. Sad.
Meet a very popular Hungarian street food speciality, Lángos.
Upstairs too at the market, are a number of fun, cheap, stand-up places to eat Hungarian-style fast food; or to sit at a 2-stool bar to try the beers. We’d read about the Lángos, so Sonya decided that she had to try one. Her verdict: delicious and decadent!
Lángos is a deep-fried bread snack, sometimes called Hungarian pizza. It’s been part of the country’s cuisine for centuries, apparently since the Turks introduced it during the Turkish occupation.
Traditionally, lángos was baked in the front of a brick oven, close to the flames. The name
comes from ‘láng‘, the Hungarian word for ‘flame’. It was made from bread dough and was served as breakfast on days when new bread was baked. Nowadays, lángos is deep fried in oil.
Lángos can be cooked at home or bought at markets and street vendors around the country and eaten as an appetizer or snack. This deep-fried flat bread is often made of a dough with flour, yeast, salt and water. But, Lángos can be made with yoghurt, sour cream or milk instead of water, a dash of sugar along with salt, and sometimes with flour and boiled mashed potatoes, which is then called potato lángos. On the street it’s usually served simply, rubbed with garlic and sprinkled with salt. Some bakers add caraway seeds into the mashed potato-yeast dough.
The most typical variation is to serve Lángos with sour cream, garlic and dill or shredded Emmenthaler or Gruyere cheese—then called sajtos tejfolos. It can be sprinkled with cinnamon sugar or confectioners’ sugar for a sweet version.
Lángos are best eaten fresh and warm, which Sonya did. We had a small bite, and it was very tasty.
Lángos is also very popular as a fast food at fairs and in amusement parks in Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia and Romania.