Countries Visited

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Map Legend: 28%, 75 of 263 Territories

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Porking Up with Eastern European Food

We will now amalgamate foods of our last few countries (Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, and Poland) because, try as we might, we were unable to eat enough foods in the short time we visited to have enough pictures for separate posts. As always, we ate almost as much as is humanly possible to bring you, our loyal readers, the best of foreign foods. Let's see what we ate.

For breakfast in Budapest, we bought a drinkable yogurt and cheesy bread for Tara and pink balls for me. Tara liked the yogurt but thought that the cheesy bread was dry. The pink balls turned out to be these weird iced rum cake things. I didn't hate them as much as most rum cakes, but they were not good. They looked so nice, though.
Budapest has a marzipan museum. I hate marzipan, but it turns out that marzipan is also an excellent building material. Here's Tara wishing that she could eat this 100% marzipan Hungarian princess. Despite my dislike of marzipan, I told them it was okay when they asked to make a marzipan statue of me...
Goulash comes in many forms, but the key ingredients are beef, vegetables, and lots of paprika. As with chili in America, Hungarians take their goulash very seriously and many have closely guarded recipes that they claim are the best. This one seemed basic but good.
Like the rest of Eastern Europe, Hungary loves bacon and bacon-like products. This pork chop with potatoes came topped with a bacon-fat starburst. No idea what it is actually called, but it is just fried bacon fat cut into a fun floral shape. We'll call it a bloomin' bacon. You thought the bloomin' onion was the least healthy dish on the planet, but now the bloomin' bacon is here!
This Hungarian ratatouille with sausage was not very memorable for me (probably because it was Tara's meal). I just asked her and she said it tasted of paprika and was a bit spicy. So, I'm sure that you can just taste it based on that description.
Slovakia has its own version of string cheese, which is made from sheep's milk and is smoked. It is called udene. Because it is cheese, it is gross. However, if I were to eat cheese, smoked cheese that tastes a bit like bacon (supposedly) is the way that I would go.
I don't remember what this fried potato bread is called, but they cover it in garlic, butter, optional cheese (no thanks), and optional sour cream (no thanks, again). It was sort of like fried dough without the sugar. An excellent snack.
Slovakia likes its heavy dumplings, and I like them, too. Here are some served with onions, pork, and some other stuff. Very good. Internet research seems to indicate that it is maybe called strapacky. Good name.
Tara had the cheese version, called bryndzove lausky, which is like a Slovakian mac and cheese. That means it uses sheep cheese and is gross. Tara, however, really liked it. The bacon-like stuff on top looked good to me.
This is called Christmas soup, or kapustnica. It has a whole bunch of ingredients, but the keys are sauerkraut, mushrooms, pork, and whatever else is laying around. Pretty good, but it didn't make me suddenly dream of Christmas.
Slovakia has its own soda, called Kofola, from Communist times when Coke wasn't allowed. It is apparently still far more popular than Coke and Pepsi. A bit like lightly carbonated, anise-flavored root beer, it is a very unique taste. Good, but I don't think that I could drink it all the time.
This delicious potato-batter fried pork was stuffed with butter and bacon. Very healthy and tasty.
Fried cheese cutlets? They have too much cheese in Slovakia. Our friend, Peter, loves these, but with my dislike of cheese and Tara's dislike of stringy, melted cheese, we both took a pass.
Apparently, it is perfectly acceptable in Slovakia to have a "sweet dinner", where you order sweet crepes or some other normally desserty item for dinner. This almost overcomes the love of cheese. Fortunately, I am not easily influenced by cultural pressures, so I happily eat "sweet dinner" often no matter the country.
From a previous trip to Vienna, I remembered having amazing sausages on the street. This bratwurst and currywurst (complete with heaps of curry powder) were indeed great, but they also cost about $4 each, which is pricey.
Peanut butter wafers are a popular snack in Slovakia. Our friends were kind enough to get us some for our long train trip to Vienna. Well, it was an hour, but Tara gets hungry easily.
Vienna has ice cream everywhere. Possibly as much as Rome, and certainly more than anywhere in the US. The most famous is probably Zanoni & Zanoni, pictured below. Very good, though we had some even more delicious cinnamon ice cream while in Bratislava.
Upon our arrival in Poland, we were surprised to find them selling bagel-like breads that looked a lot like Turkish simit. Tara bought a cheesy one while I bought a round thing covered in a sweet-looking icing. Neither was great. Thus ended our experimentation with Polish pastries. Why can't Europeans make good pastries? I suspect it is because they won't take advice from Americans.
While we were walking through the streets of Krakow, they were giving away free energy drinks. I had never tried an energy drink. (I normally have more than enough energy or am asleep. I'm binary that way.) The first sip was good and had a slightly grape soda-like taste. The second drink tasted like grape soda with a bit of pee in it. By the end of the can, it tasted like pee with
some poison added. And it did nothing for my energy levels.

Tara ate this mushroom and barley soup (or maybe some other grain since Tara doesn't really like barley) at a restaurant in Krakow. It was pretty good, but not amazing.We liked this sign for "Jewish Caviar", which is apparently chopped chicken liver. Not sure how that is at all similar to caviar, but it was advertised all over Krakow.
Let the pierogies begin! We tried several types and styles. These giant, buckwheat-filled pierogies were almost like small empanadas. Very different than we expected when ordering, but good.
I got some pork and dumplings that proved even better than the giant empanadas. The dumplings were almost like gnocchi.

We went to a restaurant in Warsaw specializing in pierogies (Zapiecek was the name, I think). We ordered some meat pierogies fried in bacon grease that were amazing, and some more ordinary mushroom ones that were served with butter. If we were to do it again, I think we would have ordered more fried in bacon grease.
This Polish pear yogurt was the last crazy yogurt for Tara for the trip. She thought it was a decent way to end her around-the-world yogurt trial.
The ice cream in Poland (and a few other countries in Eastern Europe) is often served in this fashion. I am a fan of very, very tall ice cream. In Poland, it sometimes tastes like frozen butter frosting from a cake, which is not a bad thing.
Europeans may not understand pastries, but Americans could learn a lot from Europeans when it comes to sausages. Take the lowly hot dog, for instance. This Polish hot dog would surely generate fewer jokes than the standard American hot dogs if this is what was being served on the street in New York.
Well, it appears that this brings us to the end of our final foreign food post. We are happy to have brought you foods from around the world for the last couple of years, and hope to continue to bring you updates from time to time. Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

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