Lángos


Lángos is a Hungarian street food specialty. It is pretty much just a dough with flour, yeast, salt and water…much like everything else in the universe. What makes it so special? Well, it is deep fried in that State Fair of Texas sort of way, and that is just the beginning.

Technically speaking, deep fried is deep fried, but if you ask me, some deep fried foods are just superior to others. I’ve got no interest in inferior fried foods. I’ve got a heart to think about for one. When I eat foods that are designed to shorten one’s lifespan, I like to truly enjoy them. Who wants to eat poorly fried chicken that is slightly overdone, or fried Mars bars for that matter? (The answer to that last question is every good Scotsman.)

Back to lángos. It is basically fried bread, but you could also call it a savory doughnut of sorts. But what makes it special? Is it that it is generally made by the grumpiest looking Hungarian women you’ve ever seen? I like to think so, but probably not, as there’s lots of grumpy Hungarian people and they don’t all produce good food by default. I think it is that it’s slathered in garlic first, and then come the toppings!

After the garlic is applied in the form of home-made garlic wash from a jar on the counter, customization begins. The general add-on ingredients from this point are sour cream, cheese, onions and paprika sausage. If you want to be heavily sedated and authentic, one can always go for all of the above. This tends to be my route. There are also novelty versions of lángos (still the same basic universal ingredients), such as the Mexican lángos. This type is basically just like the others, with the addition of tomatoes and corn kernels. I should point out to Americans, Mexicans and Mexican-Americans that ‘Mexican’ anything in Hungary (or the UK for that matter) always contains corn kernels. Don’t ask me why. I know that Americans, Mexicans and Mexican-Americans eat corn, but it isn’t really the defining ingredient of either Mexican or Tex-Mex cuisine, at least not as much as they seem to think over here in Europe.

Another great thing about eating lágos is that as a foreigner, it’s pretty damn cheap. Hell, it is even pretty cheap for Hungarians, and don’t you dare forget delicious. They currently run in the range of 300 – 500 Hungarian forints, which is 85p to about £1.40 (or $1.40 to $2.30 in American greenbacks). The point is, you can’t argue the price, especially that eating two in one go is out of the question. I once ate a lángos and a sausage link back to back. My wife was both amazed and horrified and I was not okay for the remainder of the day.

Also, if you want to be an expert tourist in Budapest, here’s a tip. Do go see the amazing Great Market Hall of Budapest. Do have a good look around and buy your foodie souvenirs and sample the staggering variety of paprika, goose liver, sausage and sauerkraut on offer. It’s fantastic and you get to shop with the locals. But realize that the food row on the upper level is there to serve only tourists in the strangest way possible. The prices are high (£10 for a sausage and beer). You can get lángos there, but it isn’t freshly fried (think heat lamps) and there appears to be some weird transition from lángos to pizza going on. Just think of the aforementioned Mexican lángos on steroids. They even sell some Franken-lángos oddly titled as Hungarian, but looking like a pizza. Don’t go there. Be brave and eat real street food like a pro: on the street. Downtown tourist areas are practically devoid of these oil-drenched affairs as they can’t afford renting a spot, but you can try a good one, for example, just outside the Puskás Ferenc Stadion underground station before you hop back on the tube for some involved sight seeing in town. You won’t regret it, and that way, you can eat your lángos outdoors with real Hungarians and not a crowded room full of Germans, Americans, Russians and Swedes.

There are other amazing Hungarian street foods to cover, but you can’t go wrong by trying out lángos first. It comes highly recommended by us and just about anyone who has ever tried one.

If you’re not around our neck of woods any time soon, you can prepare it at home, just make sure your extractor hood is on!

Watch this guy add potatoes to make it even more yummy and filling, which is another authentic way of preparing it.

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