Szeged, Hungary

“Ever get hungry in Hungary?” I would tease my Hungarian friends. The truth is, I don’t see how anyone can go hungry here. During my first day exploring the city, I was spoiled with choices that had me running from bakery to bakery by day and between street vendors at the Palinka festival by night. However, my food adventures don’t end there, but in my Hungarian friend’s kitchen where a new dish awaits every evening. My stay in the city famous for it’s Paprika has left me with a new found appreciation for Hungarian cuisine. (Not to mention ten pounds heavier)  

“Why Szeged?” you may ask, simply because I can get away from the Hungarian Goulash and Stuffed Cabbage here. I wanted to discover my own version of Hungarian cuisine, however, with special attention to the desserts.But first, a few things about the city itself.  Szeged is the biggest city in the south and is only a short train ride from Budapest. Along with it’s great food comes great art and architecture. Art is everywhere, whether it be in an opera show or in the ornate paintings in the Szeged Dom Cathedral. It always serves as a perfect interlude before I duck into another bakery in time for tea.

A must-go-to bakery or confectionary is A capella.  A Symphony of all the best hungarian treats under one roof. A cappella greets you with it’s never ending selection of confectionaries from, rum chocolate cake ice cream to cakes,cookies,pastries. I spent almost every afternoon either trying a new flavor of ice cream or a new hungarian dessert. After ravaging through the shelves, my search came to an end when I came across: Kremes.

Kremes is pronounced krem-esh, which also happens to be the most popular dessert among locals. At first, this modest looking dessert was like a sleepy dog at a petting zoo, but give it a chance and the thick, rich, vanilla custard will win you over with your first bite. 

In the evenings, I meet my friends at the Palinka festival, right across from A capella.  Palinka is an alocohol made entirely out of fruit, and is one of Hungary’s specialties. To put this throat burning alcohol content into perspective, the average alcohol content of absinthe is 72% ABV while the alcohol content for Palinka can reach 86% ABV. A good reason to have this annual festival fall in cold march.
The festival is a compilation of street vendors lined up behind one another. Stalls sell “Boiled Wine”(mulled wine), “Mandula”(candied almonds),Salami, and a local favorite, Kürtőskalács. ( kurt-osh-kol-ash). Kürtőskalács would be the Hungarian version of a cinnamon roll, however there are many distinct qualities that differs this addictive spiraling vortex of joy from its cousin. First off, this pastry is spiraled on a cylindrical spit rather than spiraling from it’s center.Kürtőskalács is also not as sweet as the usual icing-drenched cinnamon roll, (nothing wrong with that), instead, toppings such as cinnamon, walnuts , sugar and almonds are sprinkled onto the pastry.The last big difference is that this chimney cake is traditionally roasted over a fire, which allows the exterior of the pastry to become crispy and the sugar coating to caramelize, while the interior to remain soft and warm.

A day trip to this hidden gem is highly recommended to those love to eat. I guess “ Tele vagyok”, or “I’m full” was not in my vocabulary when I was in Hungary. So maybe I was always hungry in Hungary, not actually, but lets just say there was always room for something new.

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