Updated: Mar 2, 2022
Hungarians are quite proud of their cuisine (Magyar konyha), and most of the time not without a reason. Food are usually spicy, but not hot by general standards, and it's tasty rather than healthy: many dishes are prepared with lard or deep-fried.
The national spice is paprika, made from ground sweet bell peppers and which actually has some flavor when fresh. The national dish is goulash but Hungarians call the thick paprika-laden stew known as goulash elsewhere by the term pörkölt and reserve the term gulyás for a lighter paprika-flavored soup.
Meat is popular, especially pork (sertés), beef (marha) and lamb. The best fish in Hungary are river fish: carp (ponty), zander (fogas/süllő) and catfish (harcsa). Chicken (csirke) and turkey (pulyka) are common, and you will also find game birds excellent in smarter restaurants and country areas. Pheasant (Fácán), Partridge(Fogoly) and duck (Kacsa). A typical meal will involve soup, often like a consommé (erőleves), meat with potatoes (burgonya) and a side salad, and a dessert like pancakes (palacsinta).
Less well known in the rest of the world are csirke paprikás, chicken stew in paprika sauce, and halászlé, paprika fish soup often made from carp.
Goose is also quite popular in Hungary. While tourists gorge on goose liver (libamáj), still cheap by Western standards, probably the most common dish is sült libacomb, roast goose leg. Stuffed (töltött) vegetables of all kinds are also popular, and Hungarian pancakes (palacsinta), both savoury and sweet, are a treat. Common snacks include kolbász, a Hungarianized version of the Polish kielbasa sausage, and lángos, deep-fried dough with a variety of toppings (mostly sour cream, cheese and/or garlic).
A Hungarian meal is almost always, even at breakfast, accompanied by Hungarian pickles called savanyúság, literally "sourness".
These are often dubbed saláta on menus, so order a vitamin saláta if you want fresh veggies. Starch is most often served as potatoes, rice or dumplings (galuska or nokedli).
The primary Hungarian contribution in this field is an unusual type of small couscous-like pasta called tarhonya.
It is worth to visit a "Cukrászda" if you are in Hungary. These are very popular with delicious cakes and coffee. Try the traditional Krémes (with vanila cream), Eszterházy (lots of nuts) or Somlói Galuska. Another favourite is lángos, which is deep fried bread served served with various fillings. Most common is plain, with salt, garlic (fokhagyma) and soured cream (tejföl). If you do come across a Langos stand, there are usually a large number of options from pizza langos, or eggs with mayonnaise or Nutella and bananas.