HUNGARIAN CUISINE

Hungarian or Magyar cuisine is the cuisine characteristic of the nation of Hungary and its primary ethnic group, the Magyars. Traditional Hungarian dishes are primarily based on meats, seasonal vegetables, fruits, fresh bread, dairy products and cheeses.

History
Hungarian cuisine has influenced the history of the Magyar people, and vice versa. The importance of livestock and the nomadic lifestyle of the Magyar people, as well as a hearkening to their steppe past, is apparent in the prominence of meat in Hungarian food and may be reflected in traditional meat dishes cooked over the fire like goulash (in Hungarian "gulyás", lit. "cattleman's (meal)"), pörkölt stew and the spicy fisherman's soup called halászlé are all traditionally cooked over the open fire in a bogrács (or cauldron). In the 15th century, King Matthias Corvinus and his Neapolitan wife Beatrice, influenced by Renaissance culture, introduced new ingredients such as sweet chestnut and spices such as garlic, ginger, mace, saffron and nutmeg, onion and the use of fruits in stuffings or cooked with meat. Some of these spices such as ginger and saffron are no longer used in modern Hungarian cuisine. At that time and later, considerable numbers of Saxons (a German ethnic group), Armenians, Italians, Jews, Poles, Czechs and Slovaks settled in the Hungarian basin and in Transylvania, also contributing with different new dishes. Hungarian cuisine was influenced by Austrian cuisine under the Austro-Hungarian Empire; dishes and methods of food preparation have often been borrowed from Austrian cuisine, and vice versa. Some cakes and sweets in Hungary show a strong German-Austrian influence. All told, modern Hungarian cuisine is a synthesis of ancient Uralic components mixed with West Slavic, Balkan, Austrian, and German. The food of Hungary can be considered a melting pot of the continent, with a culinary base formed from its own, original Magyar cuisine.