Eating Goulash in Hungary and Other Stories

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It is finally Winter in Nashville. Real Hungarian Goulash is on the menu. Big chunks of beef, potatoes, parsnips and carrots in a paprika riddled broth. Hot and steaming with crusty pieces of bread for dipping.

This past summer I was traveling with friends and we spent some time in Hungary. Budapest in particular. I fell in love with the city and its food. One of my goals  was to eat real goulash soup. Bowls and bowls of it. Goulash, or Gulyas, is a cross between a soup and a stew. There are thousands of variations with everyone having their own family twist. Named for Hungarian herdsman or gulyas it is truly a dish of the people. I went…I saw….

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I ate…and ate….

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Budapest is a large, bustling city on the Danube with lots of old world charm. Like a frame from an old black and white movie taking place “behind the iron curtain”, the city seems caught between “then and now” in many ways. Haunting and beautiful, ancient and modern. A history of conflict, war, terror, lovely avenues, culinary delights and art all mish-mash together to create the whole.

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The three of us were smitten. Within weeks of our return home, the massive wave of Syrian immigrants were on the move across Europe trying to reach a safe haven in a welcoming Germany, crossing the borders of Hungary to get there. To our sadness the Hungarian government behaved very badly in this crises of humanity. Should I write about our trip..what we saw and ate? Should I share something I had so enjoyed when later disappointment clouded my outlook?

As food is a universal language with no allegiance to governments I decided that to not write this post about Budapest and Hungarian Goulash would be as silly as when people in this country refused to eat French Fries in response to France not agreeing with our invasion of Iraq.  A very silly response to a very serious situation.

So enjoy these photos and this recipe as good food is the lingua franca of people all over the world.

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Really good paprika is the key to an authentic Hungarian Goulash ,or Gulyas. It is to be found everywhere in Budapest and I stocked up on both sweet and hot. There are good paprikas from Hungary found in most large supermarkets in the USA as well as online sources.

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Hungarian Goulash

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 2hrs
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 lbs lean beef chuck, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 3 tsp dried marjoram leaves
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 carrots, cubed
  • 2 parsnips, cubed
  • 1 1/2 lbs new potatoes, cubed

Directions:

  1. Saute onions in olive oil over medium high heat until translucent in a heavy dutch oven type pan. Stir often.
  2. Turn heat to high and add cubed beef. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until meat is lightly browned. Stir to turn meat a few times.
  3. Sprinkle paprika over meat and toss well. Add marjoram, caraway and garlic. Cook a few minutes stirring to mix.
  4. Add the carrots and parsnips to the pan with 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered until the beef is tender for about 45 minutes.
  5. Add potatoes to the pot and cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  6. Serve bowls of hot goulash with crusty bread for dipping in the sauce.

Note: You can also serve goulash over noodles if you like.

Teresa Blackburn      http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com      www.foodonfifth.com

All scenes from Budapest in this post were shot with an iphone 6.

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14 thoughts on “Eating Goulash in Hungary and Other Stories

  1. “As food is a universal language with no allegiance to governments I decided that to not write this post about Budapest and Hungarian Goulash would be as silly as when people in this country refused to eat French Fries in response to France not agreeing with our invasion of Iraq. A very silly response to a very serious situation.” Amen. Beautiful post, beautiful photos, and lovely Gulyas.

  2. What stills haunts me from a trip to Hungary a long time ago is not eating goulash , which I love and your recipe looks great, but the gypsies playing their violins. That music grabbed me in the deepest part of my soul.

  3. I guess I would just try to think about the fact that there were also nice people there, giving water and such to the refugees. Such beautiful pics, and I love the vintage ads. And despite having always heard of it, I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten real goulash.

    1. Michelle, that is it exactly! The people were just so nice and helpful to us and kind. I know there were many Hungarians who were the same to the refugees of course. There are always many good folks ready to give aid. Governments can certainly give the average citizen a bad name at times!
      As to Goulash I grew up eating what was called Goulash, but it was nothing like this wonderful dish. I am just in love with it!

  4. We are crazy for goulash, but I don’t have a good recipe so I can’t wait to try yours. The best I’ve ever had was in the home of one of our exchange students who lived in Budapest.

  5. Beautiful post Teresa. Budapest has been on my bucket list and the events of the migrant crisis had saddened me in Hungary. Food does unite us and the actions of governments don’t reflect on its people. Turkey is an example of this as well. Wonderful soulful kind people, fabulous food long respectful of farm-table origin, terrible government. The people of of Turkey appreciate this visitors so much and treat them so well. I am sure Hungarians will be especially welcoming to tourists who visit in spite of the shameful actions of their government recently.

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