|Marha pőrkőlt: when people want 'goulash' (Roma Ételbar)|
When somebody asks me to recommend a good authentic Hungarian restaurant in downtown Budapest these days, I can't. I live in the 7th district "Party Quarter" which is still - invisibly - the Jewish Ghetto. This area is crowded with bars and eateries catering to the swarms of tourists - both foreign and domestic - who pack into local hostels and Air B&Bs within staggering distance of the bars and clubs, most of them operated by fly-by-night bizniz sleazebags who could not care less about the negative impact they have on one of Budapest's most unique residential neighborhoods. People in this community know each other - many have lived in its flats for generations. We greet each other by name on the street. We have resident forums in the park. If you actually live in this district it can feel more like a village than a downtown Budapest neighborhood. What we don't have is a decent Hungarian restaurant.
|Krumplis tészta at Roma Ételbar (veggie-friendly spuds 'n' noods)|
There are lots of Hungarian restaurants in Modern Magyarland, so you would think that all you had to do to find some good honest goulash or a nice country style bean soup is to wander down to the corner, pay a reasonable price, and tuck in. Sorry, that doesn't happen anymore. Most Hungarian restaurants kind of suck, for lack of a better term. Well, at least many do. There used to be a lot more of the non-sucking variety, but they are getting sparser on the ground (or are found way out yonder in Óbuda, fer chrissakes. The Kéhli, for example.). Many aspire to either some mis-imagined version of Magyar haute cuisine, or they serve some crazed fusion dreamed up while working in the kitchen of a cruise ship or German hotel - which is where a shocking number of Hungarian culinary school graduates end up ( explaining the strange and now almost universal custom of sprinkling dried parsley all over the edges of the serving plates and adding ginger and pineapple to dishes where pineapple simply do not belong.) Hungarian food is peasant food, at its best simple, filling, and made with local ingredients. Károly Gundel, the famed restauranteur, knew this when he stressed the essence of Hungarian cuisine began with simply "frying onions in lard."
|When Yorkville was still the center of the universe.|
|Hungarian Yorkville... now just a memory.|
|Székely Gulyás... has nothing to do with either Székelys or goulash.|
|Kitten in command|
|What is this tripe that sits before me?|