The spicy foods of Hungary, often referred to as Magyar cuisine, are the results of centuries of Turkish, German and Austrian influences. As a nomadic civilization, the Hungarians developed unique ways of cooking livestock (a prominent feature of Magyar cuisine) over a fire in cauldrons.
In Hungary, lunch is the most important meal of the day, consisting of several courses. The first course is usually a soup, followed by a dish featuring meat, and concluded with a dessert and fruit.
Hungarian breakfasts include fruit, cereal, fresh breads or vegetables, and dinner follows in a similar fashion.
Some of the most common Hungarian dishes include goulash, stuffed cabbage, Gypsy Roast, vegetable stew, and a fish soup seasoned with paprika. Paprika is frequently used to flavor dishes, along with black pepper and onions, and potatoes are a Hungarian staple. Goose liver is a Hungarian delicacy, served fried, grilled, cold and hot.
Magyar cuisine is well known for its delightful assortment of sweets, such as strudel, Gundel pancakes, as well as mashed, cooked chestnuts topped with whipped cream.
Many Hungarians choose to drink beer from one of three major regional breweries at lunch. In addition, Hungary is home to a unique spirit called Pálinka. Pálinka is distilled from locally grown fruits, such as apricot, cherry and plum. Unicum is a unique blend of 40 Hungarian herbs; this bitter liqueur is often served as an aperitif or nightcap to aid in digestion.
Many who are unfamiliar with Hungarian cuisine think that all Hungarian dishes are heavy, rich and fiery. Although some dishes are spicy, Magyar cuisine has something to suit the tastes of any palate.