What makes a dream dinner date?
Forgive us this indulgence as we take a break from our normal postings (well at least from updating you on our most recent misadventures throughout Latin America), in this case contemplating, a hypothetical dream dinner date.
Queue the harp/dream sequence music…
As you may have guessed, the company was the easiest decision.
That would be Sarah. As for the where and what? Well, this is where it gets a little more difficult.
A plethora of options immediately spring to mind.
Spicy Thai, Laotian or Vietnamese cuisine (the flavours of South-East Asia always delight). Thinking spicy, and of course there’s delicious Mexican to consider…
With a world of wonderful food options available, I’ve gone for something a little more personal, something closer to my heart and at least half of my family’s ancestral home, Hungarian.
It is also very possible, that 7 months in Latin America where Gallo Pinto (Rice & Beans) is king, has me hankering for some old world, hearty food!
So with that in mind, let me set the scene.
It’s a lovely summers evening in the Hungarian capital (Budapest), and we’re set upon the banks of the Danube in the evening twilight.
Budapest is a stunning city, straddling one of Europe’s most famous rivers (in fact it snakes it’s way through no fewer than 10 countries), it is gifted with many a grand edifice from it’s glorious days as part of the Habsburg/Austro-Hungarian Empires.
But, I digress… so back to nurturing our setting.
The day has cooled, but the evening is not cold, perfect for indulging in some cold beer (perhaps a local Dreher) and some famously hearty Hungarian cuisine.
The first thing we tuck into goes famously well with those beers. Once a traditional peasant street food, still found in some restaurants and during holiday festivities, Lángos.
Throw grace and decorum aside, and dig right in with your hands for these deep fried cakes of potato, lathered with sour cream and liberally sprinkled with grated cheese.
As already suggested, this pairs beautifully with a local beer and although your arteries may be screaming at you, your taste buds will be dancing with joy.
You’d better keep a beer or two on ice ready to quench the fires of this next dish (even though white wine is suggested for this fish based dish, we’ll stick with beer here… after all, this is my dream dinner), Szeged Halászlé.
I’ll confess at this point, that I don’t know from experience how well some sites that use website translation software work (they sure would have been a great help recently as we tried to book online ferry tickets from Panama to Colombia… but that is a story for another time), but I’d bet the sites could quickly tell you that Halászlé is in fact chowder or soup, whilst Szeged is Hungary’s 3rd city, and also the birthplace of my grandmother..
This one packs a punch, a legacy of the spicy paprika cooked into the dish, and in all likelihood from the additional paprika we’ve thrown in ourselves once the dish has been served.
Two down, two to go, although by now we’ll probably be close to bursting at the seams already.
For main, we continue that paprika theme (well it just wouldn’t be Hungarian without it) and by now, force our way through a delicious plate of Paprikás Csirke (Paprika Chicken) and Nokedli.
You may know Nokedli as Spätzle, but if not it is essentially a type of egg noodle (some also call it a dumpling), common the remnants of the Austro-Hungarian empire, as well as Germany and Switzerland.
Tying it all back together (and taking us full circle), is the wonderful creaminess given by another generous serving of sour cream.
Now what kind of a dream dinner would this be without some sort of a dessert?
I’ve kept it local for this one as well, at least in the sense that it is very much a memory of Budapest that we’ve shared, but perhaps not something as traditionally Hungarian as our other fare.
By now our beers are empty, our table has been cleared and it is time to wrap our lips around some most delicious Ginger Gelato (this gelato, despite all of our travels, remains the best we’ve ever devoured).
This stuff is so good, you even feel the slight ginger burn as it hits the back of your throat. Bliss!
So there you have it, our dream dinner.
I hope this dream dinner has made you feel as hungry as it has me!
I’m sure next time I’m asked this same question, the answer will be different again, and that is the true beauty of travel, it introduces us to new worlds and helps us evolve.
Hungary, or at least Budapest is probably a good example should you decide to track down this fare online, as many websites do in fact have English as an option, with some even catering to Italian, German, French and even Russian speakers.
It’s obviously quite a melting pot of west meets east (as well as a practical awareness one must assume, that Hungarian is indeed a difficult language to learn).
So finally, what’s your dream dinner date?
* All of the food mentioned here can be found within the restaurants of Budapest.
* If you wanted to share the delicious tastes of our experiences for yourself, the gelato (one of the best we’ve ever tasted) can be found on the fringes of St Stephens Square, on the corner of Sas & Zrinyi.
* Surprised I didn’t include Goulash in this meal? Well although what has generally been exported to the rest of the world is a delicious, meaty stew, traditional Goulash is in fact a soup, and truth be told, I don’t love it as much as the international version!