Thursday, January 14, 2016

This Way to Langos

In the past 25 years I have been fortunate to travel to Europe several times and 3 of those times I've gone to Hungary. As much as I want to explore new places and see new things, Hungary keeps pulling me back. Several years ago I was working in the restaurant of the Sheraton Four Points Hotel in Eastham on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Most of the kitchen and dining room staff were college students from Eastern European countries and several were from Hungary. I still remember that summer, more than a dozen years ago, as one of the best working experiences of my life. Those Hungarian "kids" were so much fun while still managing to be the most hard working and reliable group of people I have even had the pleasure of working with. I remember them all very fondly.
left to right, Botond, Miklos, Reka and Emese

Fortunately I have been able to maintain a close relationship with one of them, even traveling to Hungary over one long weekend a few years ago to attend his wedding.

My dear friend, Miki, and his lovely wife, Reka, as well as their parents, welcome me into their homes like visiting royalty and make me feel very much like extended family. On this most recent trip, last September, I had the joyous experience of meeting the two newest members of the family, their daughter, Emese, and their son, Botond. They are the most delightful little people and I had so much fun with them! They didn't seem to have any trouble accepting me as part of their family, sharing toys and chatting away like old friends although neither the children nor I ever understood a single word the other was speaking.

Miki and Reka devoted an entire week to showing me the towns and countryside around their home about 2 hours south of Budapest. I am so fortunate to have these friends who could not only show me the tourist sites, but also explain the history, offer insight into current events and share what is the day to day life of the people.

If not for my friends, I probably would never have visited Hungary in the first place, but now that I've been there I would keep going back for the food. One of my favorites is Langos, a fried bread sold throughout Hungary from street-side stands and markets. It is usually offered with a variety of toppings but it seems most traditionally eaten with sour cream, cheese and fresh garlic.

Another favorite is Hungarian salami. Don't bother trying the stuff labeled "Hungarian" in supermarkets in the States. I promise you, it is NOT the same thing!

Hungarian wine is excellent, as well, and I was lucky to have a personal tour of the basement winery of a friend of Miki's. Sadly, Hungarian wines aren't widely distributed in the United States and, judging by what I have tried, the best of the Hungarian wines are consumed in Hungary by the Hungarians. For example, the winery that I visited bottles and sells only by special order to local restaurants and those individuals who are fortunate enough to know of him.

Miki's and Reka's families also welcomed me into their homes for delicious home cooked meals of traditional Hungarian foods. Both Moms are excellent cooks and I was very well fed.

Thank you to my very dear friends for your warm hospitality. I miss you all and can't wait until I see you again. And special thanks with much love to this precious little tiger for all the fun we had together.

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