Tourists can seek refuge among the small booth eateries upstairs.
Among the overload of kitschy souvenirs found in the Central Market Hall on the Buda side of town, tourists can seek refuge among the small booth eateries upstairs. Although the crowds can be a bit overwhelming at lunchtime, the array of enticing smells should be enough to stick around. After shopping around the many booths, I finally decided on the stuffed peppers, stewed beef, and for dessert, the traditional lángos.
These stewed peppers come stuff with a changing mix of ground beef, red onions, garlic, pepper, and of course paprika. The peppers are slow cooked in a sweet tomato sauce, flavored with basil, parsley, and cabbage until the tomato sauce thickens. Some form of potato often accompanies this dish, whether it be boiled or mashed.
These tender meat filled peppers were tasty with a complex rush of flavors. The sauce, however, I found to be a little too sweet. This could have been a peculiarity of the specific shop I went to.
Pörkölt is a meat stew made with any kind of meat, paprika, and sometimes vegetables. The important distinction between Pörkölt and goulash is that no potatoes are involved! This dish is served over nokedli, the Hungarian version of spätzle, a type of egg noodle that has been grated, resulting in a small irregularly shaped pasta drops.
This savory dish was my favorite; the meat was incredibly juicy, the sauce beautifully savory, and the nokedli provided an incongruous texture that was, perhaps, so wrong it was right. Lángos comes from the Hungarian word lang, which literally means flame. Lángos had traditionally been a baked, however today they are almost always deep fried. Toppings include the traditional sour cream and cheese, although many shops offer pizza-like toppings and options for any sweet tooth.
Wanting to get the full experience, but also needing something sweet at the end of my meal, I went for half sweet and half savory. Even though I got a weird look from the cook, they shop abided with a half sour cream and cheese and half Nutella lángos. The sour cream and cheese side was surprisingly delicious and I encourage everyone to try!
Central Market Hall is located: Nagy Vasarcsarnok, Vamhaz korut 1-3, Budapest 1093, Hungary