Top Weird Hungarian Foods to Try (or Not): Part III

Egg noodles. You can’t go wrong. Kids love ’em. Put something with a cream sauce and you’re ready to go. Well, get this. Hungarians put poppy seeds and sugar on them. Or ground walnuts and sugar. Or sauteed cabbage and sugar. Can you believe it? Read on for more about these, and about the one egg noodle invention that really is worth trying (No. 5)…

4. These egg noodle concoctions are called mákos tészta, diós tészta and káposztás tészta, respectively, and are hugely popular at preschools all over Hungary. Grownups order them at cafeteria-style eateries where they like to indulge in such nostalgic dishes. Apparently it’s another way for Hungarians to claim they’re eating a healthy main dish when it’s actually a dessert. (Hungarians primarily do this with palacsinta, crepes, which are considered a perfectly good main dish after soup in many households.)

I must make a slight exception for káposztás tészta, the cabbage one. This is often prepared with salt instead of sugar, and lots and lots of ground black pepper. After the finely chopped, sautéed cabbage is tossed with the noodles, many cooks sauté it further to get a crispy, browned effect on both. Now THAT is one Hungarian noodle dish worth trying. The other one follows…

5. Túrós csusza is one of Hungary’s culinary wonders, although it still qualifies for the Weird list in my book. This is the same egg noodles, tossed with sautéed bacon and then topped with a mixture of sour cream and túró (cottage cheese). When I say sautéed bacon, however, I mean just the fatty part, which of course is a delicacy here. It does fry up into a nice greasy pool of, well, grease, with crispy bits of fat floating around. It’s important to dump the whole thing into the pasta – no skimming off the fat, otherwise you’ll have missed the point! The melted fat makes the pasta slippery, hence the name, from the verb “csúszni,” to slip. It also makes it sufficiently salty, offset by the tangy-lumpy sour cream and túró. Fantastic.

I often put fresh ground pepper on mine, but don’t tell Hungarians – apparently this is just not done. I also had the Szeged version once, with sauteed kolbász (paprika sausage) and that was scrumptious too.

I attempted to make túrós csusza in the US once. They have egg noodles, bacon, sour cream and cottage cheese, right? Well, the egg noodles were fine. But the bacon was not fatty enough, the sour cream was also low-fat compared with the Hungarian, and the cottage cheese? Well, you can probably guess that it was a poor substitute to the Hungarian. That goes for all American dairy products  – no flavor at all, compared with the lovely milk and yogurt in this part of the world!

Anyway, túrós csusza was a complete flop in Michigan. Needless to say, I haven’t tried to introduce the poppy seed and walnut versions in the US either, because I just can’t wrap my brain around putting sugar on noodles. Can you?

A link to my previous posts on weird Hungarian foods: https://adriknows.com/2012/04/18/top-weird-hungarian-foods-to-try-or-not-part-ii/ and https://adriknows.com/2012/04/16/top-weird-hungarian-foods-to-try-or-not-part-i/. Enjoy. Or not.

About adriknows

One day, people looking for tips on life in Budapest started coming to me. Friends, then friends of friends, and so on. People were telling newcomers and longtime Budapesters alike, “Adri knows!” Now it’s time to share what I’ve picked up over more than a decade of fun-and-frequently-frazzled family life in the big BP.
This entry was posted in Cultural Quirks, Life with Kids, Loving Life in Budapest and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Top Weird Hungarian Foods to Try (or Not): Part III

  1. Agnes says:

    I made túrós csusza in Texas, and it was a huge success among my US friends… and to get the real Hungarian cottage cheese, I used to try to curdle a gallon of milk at home, but even after leaving it out for 2 weeks at room temperature, it still wouldn’t do it, which was really weird. Anyways, Texans also cheered for the mashed potatos with fried onion, paprika and pasta, as well as for browned semolina (cream of wheat) with sugar and apricot jelly over pasta… as far as I know, they still make these dishes themselves.

    • adriknows says:

      Congratulations! I’m glad you introduced the Texans to some good Hungarian things, although I can’t imagine apricot jelly over pasta… I love everything with semolina. Keep on cooking!

  2. Andrea says:

    Oh my gosh, this post has just made me so hungry for these gorgeous dishes, I must get my sister-in-law to make me some!! somehow she can find just the right ingredients here in England (thank heavens for Polish shops!!)

  3. david wellens says:

    I love noodles. You didn’t mention Humgarian Goulash.

  4. Dori says:

    Káposztás tészta is my #1 comfort food. Many years ago, when I went home for a visit my aunt made a huge pot and I had 3 large helpings! She couldn’t believe how much food a “skinny” lany could put away (If I eat like that, why didn’t I have more meat on my bones!). Ah, the memories!!!

  5. Klara somogyi says:

    Hey, Adri! You forgot krumplis teszta!By the way, on turos csusza do not use cottage cheese but farmers cheese.It’s dryer and better with the noodles.

    • adriknows says:

      You’re right. Krumplis tészta, potatoes with noodles, is a very weird Hungarian phenomenon indeed! And thanks for the tip on the farmer’s cheese instead of cottage cheese. I will try it this summer in the US. By the way, I once made something that tasted like kőrözött by putting feta and cottage cheese in a cuisinart, then adding chopped onions and paprika powder! Best, Adri

  6. Kriszta says:

    I am first generation Canadian – with both parents coming from Hungary. My sister and I still think “Cottage Cheese Noodles” is the best dinner around! However, most of our friends just don’t understand. Thanks for posting!

    • adriknows says:

      It’s the best, indeed! My American friends liked the bacon and noodle part but the cottage cheese part scared them away. Maybe if I were to say it’s with ricotta it would sound better and they might try it! We love Canada – I lived in Toronto for 5 years. All best, Adri

  7. Zsuzsanna says:

    similar to these, very simple. im NOT sure of the spelling but my mother used to make it all the time for us. i call it dudish, its due-dish-dash-ta… simply cut up bacon, cook it in a pan. at the same time boil water and cook pasta, i use bowties. when done. drain both. put pasta in pot, add bacon, and sour cream. mix. add a lil salt to taste and enjoy! sounds gross but its fabulous and everyone i give it to falls in love! 1 lb bacon, 1 lb pasta, 1 lb sour cream. too easy.

  8. Paul Zentai says:

    Quick note about túró. It’s not actually cottage cheese. It’s closer to cream cheese, but still a bit different. I looked into it and apparently it’s hard to find túró in any country apart from Hungary. I believe it’s closest to quark.

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