Hungary, you ruined my diet!

Magyarország, akkor tönkretette a diéta!

A tale of migration(s) through recipes and food memory is in theory what I’m currently researching. This may appear slightly vague and not definitive, but that’s probably because I’m at that stage in my research between having been sure of what I was doing and the ‘conclusion’ to my research, where I shall also (I hope) be (reasonably) sure of what I’ve done. So, I’m at that ‘what exactly am I doing’ stage. My research is attempting to answer (in a small way) how food memories situate identity and ideas of belonging in migrant communities, and I’m accessing this through my family history, which is one of migration. Therefore, my research methodology is auto – ethnographic and my participants are either Hungarian or the children of Hungarians, all of whom have migrated from Hungary, and in some case re-migrated back.

Many of my vivid childhood food memories involve my grandmother’s wonderful Hungarian cooking. In fact it was her food, my familiarity with it and notion (as a child) that it was normal that made me realize I might be slightly ‘other’, or at least eating food that was different to many of my primary school classmates. One realization (at age nine or ten) was that not everyone had stuffed peppers or chicken paprika on Sundays, that there was actually something called the ‘Sunday Roast’! I’m sure that many people with hybrid identities, having parents or grandparents originally from overseas, have also experienced the same moments of realization. Indeed, it may not be that unusual, especially in modern multicultural Britain, but as I mentioned earlier, I’m investigating issues of identity and belonging via my family narrative.

As part of my research and in a bid to access my childhood memories, I’ve been cooking and eating Hungarian food. Not an easy task, but one which I’ve undertaken out of duty, duty to give my research integrity. Far better to cook and eat, than read about cooking and eating. I’ve hidden the bathroom scales!

The logical next step was to go to Hungary, so I hopped on a budget airplane and some of my research is shown below.

Hungarian food

Poppy seed pastry and kifli

Hungarian food

Vargabéles – vermicelli with sweet cream cheese and raisins, with a filo pastry lid and jam. Great for breakfast!

Hungarian food

Körözött/spicy paprika cream cheese spread. Best eaten with fiery peppers.                  Commonly eaten for breakfast.

Hungarian food

Hungarian snack – Paprika sausage, peppers, leek and sheep’s cheese

Hungarian food

Lecsó – similar to ratatouille. This one was made with the addition of egg and sausage.       Can be eaten at anytime.

Hungarian food

Gulyásleves/goulash soup

Hungarian food


Hungarian food

Sajtos-tejfölös lángos – Langos is fried dough and has a light consistency.                             This one has sour cream and cheese. A quasi – religious experience!

Hungarian food

Töltött lángos – Langos filled with kolbász and cheese. Amazing!

Hungarian food

Hungarian cakes – They had to be eaten.


Some notes:

The langos to my mind has always been a holiday snack, eaten after a swim in Lake Balaton.

The  töltött lángos was from a great little Hungarian restaurant in Camden Town, London.







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