What better place for I, a traveling gourmand, to travel to than Hungary. Not only is the name fitting for my perpetual state of being, but this land of the Mighty Magyars and a tongue twisting language proved to be quite interesting when Kevin and I explored Budapest during Spring Break in 2009. It was one of a couple stops during our trek throughout Eastern Europe, but it started off with a bang the first night Kevin and I went out for dinner at For Sale Pub and Restaurant.
While the outside seemed relatively normal, that concept was quickly thrown out the window as soon as we waltzed in. The inside seemed like a peasant’s house complete with hay on the floor and a rustic wooden interior. We scaled the staircase to find a room whose walls seemed to be decorated by Office Max with all of the random pieces of white paper. Upon closer inspection, each leaf had a message on it. They ranged from the basic salutation to fellow diners to letters to loved ones to random curse words in various languages. Oh freedom of speech! We got menus and a free basket of peanuts from our waiter while Tupac’s “California Love” bumped over the speakers. Thankfully the For Sale doesn’t put on any airs since we could throw the peanut shells on the floor. Looking over the menu, they served numerous types of Hungarian specialties including the signature goulash along with some other more mysterious selections that caught my eye like the gipsy roast. I asked our waiter what exactly the roast consisted of, and he just said “meat”…goody.
When it came out, along with our goulash, it looked not too bad. I didn’t take a picture of it, but I found an adequate representative of it online. It seemed like a few slices of steak that were rubbed with some salt, pepper, and garlic. The meat itself was quite succulent and juicy. These wandering social outcasts do know good food. As for the potatoes, they were just boiled. However, the parsley gave them an herbal scent that enticed my nose and palate. The final piece of the plate I couldn’t really tell what it was. I asked our friendly waiter what exactly it was, and he said, “Rooster” while pointing to his head. I took it to meant that it was a fried rooster comb, a.k.a. the red junk on top of the rooster’s head. It was crispy yet slightly chewy with a definite bacon flavor. After doing a bit of research, turns out our English impaired waiter took me for a ride. After doing a bit of research and seeing this gipsy roast preparation video, I discovered what I ate was actually bacon, not rooster a rooster comb. What he meant to say was it was bacon cut in rooster comb style. The goulash, however, was the highlight of the meal. Apparently, the name goulash comes from the Hungarian for “gulyás” or “herd of cattle” since the Hungarian plain was a huge cattle raising area. Therefore, the herdsmen would always have some cattle to slaughter along the way in order to make their goulash. The For Sale Pub’s soup was filled with plenty of slightly spicy and hellishly red paprika which originally came from the Turks who invaded Buda in 1529. As for the contents, it was simple yet hearty fare with bobbing beef chunks, potatoes, onions, and peppers.
While I was crestfallen to find out that I didn’t unknowingly eat a bizarre food, the national dish of Hungary, goulash, definitely made up for it. It was one of many memorable moments as I traveled through Budapest with Kevin and his girlfriend. If you can’t find anything else to eat, Budapest has plenty of delicious, handmade pretzels in their public parks and blood orange, or as they put it “Spanish flavor”, flavored Fanta. I guarantee satisfaction!