The 2 P’s of Hungary. Paprika and Palinka
Hungary is a country filled with culture. From taking a boat ride on the Danube to eating tasty goulash in a Hungarian restaurant, there is no doubt you’d enjoy your stay in the country. Budapest, which is the combination of Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube, is a city that will take your breath away. Either strolling through Hero’s Square in Pest or walking through the Castle District in Buda, there is not doubt that your trip to Budapest will be a unforgetable one.
After spending 3 days in Budapest back in 2006, one thing stood out. At every corner, you’ll find a store selling both Paprika and Palinka. So guess what souvenirs I bought my friends and family?! Yup.. you got it! Before traveling to Budapest, I had no idea what Palinka was. For those of you who never heard about it, Palinka is a brandy type of alcohol made with fruit extract (plums, pears, apples, etc). The acohol content is anywhere from 40% to 86%. It’s very strong and not really fruity. So my friend and I decided to buy a few small bottles of the alcohol to try it and give the rest as gifts. Now, let’s just say it didn’t activate my taste buds in the right way but the memory I have of it is great. We bought the Palinka in a small shop near the Parliament. Then walked over to Hero’s Square, sat down on a bench and opened the bottle open. As we sat on this type of stone- sitting, sipping and observing- I can say that my experience with the alcohol is a very memorable one. Would I drink it at home… not really. But at least I can say I tried it.
The other product that’s 100% Hungarian and sold everywhere is paprika. Back then, cooking was of no interest to me. But I still bought a few paprika souvenir bags for family and kept a few for me, knowing it would eventually come in handy. And it did. Although paprika is grown in South America of West Indies and commercialized by California, Spain and Hungary, the Hungarians are those who offer a much richer and flavourful paprika. Most Hungarian dishes involve the use of paprika, a prized spice for the culture.
If you plan on visiting Hungary, don’t forget to try the 2 P’s of Hungary and of course, their main dish, goulash. You’ll enjoy your experience. There is no doubt about it!