Even though the world seems to be opening back up, COVID-19 cases are rising, so for us, quarantine is still a thing, and likely will be through summer at least. The good news is that there are still a TON of countries out there to explore in a virtual sense!
This week took us to Hungary, where one branch of A’s family is from. Dinner, dessert, and some fun activities made the “trip” come to life – even though I messed up on one of the activities. Details to follow.
Hungarian-Themed Date Night
Eat: Chicken Paprikash and Rigo Jancsi
I just didn’t want to make goulash. Not that it’s bad; it’s actually quite good. But I wasn’t in the mood. Chicken paprikash is a lovely dish of braised chicken in a sauce made of – you guessed it – paprika, the all-important Hungarian spice. I used both sweet and smoked paprika as well as a bit of cayenne, and then finished it with some cream since I’d forgotten to buy sour cream. We make do, right? I also added some smoked turkey sausage to up the flavor. Serve alongside egg noodles, and it’s a comforting dinner!
Hungary, like Austria next door, is famous for ridiculously complicated layered cakes and intricate pastries. A took it upon herself to bake rigo jancsi, two layers of chocolate sponge cake with a rum-flavored chocolate mousse between, and ganache on top. It was insane! If it weren’t so time-consuming (call it three hours of active cooking between the components) I’d ask her to make it regularly.
This might be my favorite of A’s desserts, although I seem to say that every week. Ignore the remnants of my first piece on the plate.
All in all, I think this was my favorite date night meal, at least so far.
Learn: The Early History of Hungary
I know much of the modern history of Hungary, from its time as the “other half” of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to its communist period and modern admission to the EU. But before that? Nearly nothing. This ten-minute documentary covered the period of 700 BCE to 700 CE, during which the tribes that would become today’s Hungarians migrated across Eastern and Central Europe to what is now their home.
Read: The History of Unica
The quintessential Hungarian liquor Unica – also called “the Black Death” – is only made by a single family, and this fun online exhibit tells their story. The grammar is a bit rough, being a translation, but the stories come through. Note: I’ve never tasted Unica, and with a nickname as it has, I’m not sure I’d want to. But I find it fascinating nonetheless. Have you tried it? Did you like it? Please share!
Explore: The Hungarian Parliament
One of the most beautiful buildings in Europe, the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest offers a six minute virtual tour (no narration, just video) of the outside and inside of the iconic structure. I’ve seen it from the Danube, but never been inside, and wow!! The video uses a Liszt concerto as its background, which is very appropriate for Hungary.
Yeah, it’s a gorgeous building.
Watch: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Remember the mistake I made? This is it. Not that the movie wasn’t good; it was entertaining and fairly immersive. But having never seen it before, I had assumed it was about Budapest. It is not. It has nothing to do with Hungary, although apparently parts were filmed there. Oops!! (Regardless, it was a fun film to see.)
It’s not about Budapest, but it’s a fun film.
Hungary is a country that is becoming more of a trendy destination for those visiting Europe, and Budapest is a world-class tourist city. I thoroughly enjoyed this return trip for me, and I hope you enjoy your own Hungarian date night as well!
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