Étkezés – Meals in Hungary

10 perc olvasás
sushi in the plate

In Hungary in most houses the meals are breakfast, lunch and supper. Hungarian breakfast consists of milk or tea, some cold meals with a slice of bread spreading butter or rolls, different jams, honey and toast.


In an English home four meals are served: they are breakfast, lunch, tea and the most important meal of the day is the dinner. English breakfast consists of cornflakes, ham and eggs (boiled and fried) with tomato or mushrooms, buttered toast or bread and butter with marmalade and fish may be served. Some orange juice is drunk before breakfast and tea or coffee is drunk after it.

Meals in Hungary                                              Meals in England

–         to have breakfast                                       – to drink early morning tea

–         to take one’s elevenses                             – to eat a substantial breakfast


–         to have lunch at work/at home              – to have a snack for lunch

–         to have a cold meal for supper               – to have a big dinner

I usually have no breakfast at home except at weekends because I have it with my colleagues at my work. I eat some sandwiches which I have made previously or I sometimes buy ‘a cocoa snail’. I usually eat some cold cuts with rolls, green pepper or tomato and drink cold milk. Some people just eat an apple or a banana or drink a cup of tea/coffee. At weekends we have a more relaxed breakfast; we often eat ham and eggs or gypsy toast.

To make a tea (for more persons) I put the kettle under the tap and fill it up with water. Then I put it on the electric cooker (or in the microwave oven) and bring the water to boil. When the water is boiling I put the tea-bags into it. I leave them to brew for some minutes then I take them out. I serve it with sugar and lemon. To make sandwiches I cut a loaf of bread into slices and spread some butter or marge over them. I make hard-boiled eggs, cut them up and put them on the bread together with some slices of salami or cold sausages. Finally I grate some cheese and sprinkle it over the bread slices. For decoration I use paprika paste or mustard.

Lunch is the second meal of the day and people have it between twelve and half past two depending on the time of the lunch break at work. It is usually a heavy meal and most working people have it in a self-service restaurant or in the canteen of their factory. There we join to the queue. After taking a tray, the cutlery, some paper serviettes and a plastic glass we choose what we want to have. Naturally, canteen food isn’t in the same street as what your (grand) mother/wife cooks at home, but I’m not particularly choosy or fastidious about what I eat. I eat everything that is delicious and well-cooked and I don’t have particularly sweet tooth. Lunch consists of three courses: first comes some soup (clear, vegetable, meat, pea, bean or fruit soup). I generally take fruit soup, because this is my favourite.


The second course is either some meat (a pork chop, some poultry or fish, usually tuna or heck) with garnish (mashed potatoes, chips or rice) or some vegetable dish made from green peas, French beans, marrow, spinach or sorrel. Cabbage is also popular prepared as cabbage with tomatoes or stuffed cabbage. The second course may also be some noodles, pancakes, strudel (filled with fruit, cottage cheese, cabbage or poppy-seed), scones or doughnuts. The third course is always some cake or depending on the season of the year fresh or stewed fruit.

The Hungarians take great pride (are proud of) in their fish dishes, made from the delicate pike-perch caught in Lake Balaton and the many varieties that abound in the Danube or in the smaller ponds. The Fish soup is a meal itself. I think Hungarian cuisine has a good reputation and the foreigners who come here find our dishes very tasty and luscious. Hungarian Goulash e.g. is world famous but there are many other lesser-known specialities.

Among the most popular national dishes are paprika chicken with sour cream, stuffed cabbage, noodles with poppy-seed and sugar/cabbage or roasted paprika potatoes. Our national dish is noodles with cottage cheese, sour cream and scraps of roasted bacon. We are also fond of different soups; we are a soup-eating nation. Both the ‘beans soup of Jókai’ and ‘Újházi chicken broth’ are the most famous soups in Hungary. A typical Hungarian lunch is unimaginable without soup. We must mention ‘pancake Hortobágyi style’ and a pudding called ‘floating islands’ also.

I lay the table as I sometimes do for a Sunday lunch. I spread a nice white cloth over the dining table and put a vase with flowers in the middle. I put out the dinner plates first, then the soup plates. The knife and spoon go on the right-hand side, the napkin and the fork on the left. I put the side plates, goblets, glasses and dessert spoons in front of the plates. Finally I try not to forget about the saltcellar, the pepper pot and the toothpicks either.

Few recipes

How to make the ‘Hungarian lecsó (Stewed peppers and tomatoes with sausage)



–         Red pepper                 1 pinch

–         Salt                              2 teaspoon

–         Onions                         300g

–         Sausage                       300g

–         Green peppers             1kg

–         Tomatoes                    ½ kg

–         Oil

–         rice

Simmer diced onions in oil and add the cleaned peppers sliced in ringlets. Let them sauté for 5mn. Under covered lid at a low heat. Now add sausage slices, peeled and diced tomatoes and spices. Heat it at a medium range for a half hour. Prepare rice in the meantime and serve together with the ‘lecsó”.

How to make ‘rakott krumpli


–         6 eggs

–         Cooking oil

–         2kg potato

–         red pepper

–         sausage

–         sour cream

–         salt

–         Red pepper/paprika

–         pepper

Cook the potatoes and the eggs then peel them. Then you have to make a sauce by the following steps: cut onions and simmer them in oil, add a bit red pepper to it, pour into it a carton of sour cream and stir it while boiling. Having sliced the eggs and the potatoes, you put them into a Pyrex dish/bowl (or a roasting/baking dish/tin) by making layers. Meanwhile sprinkle with salt and season with pepper. Cook while it is red.

  • To eat out means to have a meal in a restaurant. If you want to dine out you have the choice of going to a first-, second-, or third-class restaurant, a self-service restaurant or in summer to an open-air restaurant. People choose the self-service system if they are in a hurry and they want to have a quick meal. You go into the restaurant and choose the dish you want to eat from the list (which is) hanging on the wall. Then you pick up a tray, knife, fork, spoon and queue at the counter where the food is on display. You pick out what you want and put it on your tray, which you have to push along a special rack till you reach the cashier. The cashier will give you the bill. After paying you take your tray to any table you like. You can sit alone or with another customer. Furthermore advantages are that you can have a hot meal in few minutes and you never buy a pig in a poke. The only disadvantage is that you may not always find a free table.If people have time and money, they go to a first-class restaurant. When you enter a restaurant, first you have to leave your coats in the cloakroom. After that you enter the dining-room and either look for an empty table yourself or the headwaiter shows you to one. Some people reserve tables in advance, otherwise they may not always have luck in finding a free table. You sit down at the table and ask the waiter for the menu. If you decide to dine a la carte, you go through the menu and give the order to the waiter. Sometimes you ask the waiter what he can recommend you. Some restaurants have certain special dishes which can’t be eaten at other places. As most dishes have a fancy name you sometimes ask the waiter what that dish includes. Paying for your dinner at a restaurant in Hungary is not always very simple. You have to make a sign to the waiter and let him know that you’d like to ask for the bill. He comes immediately and you can pay. You usually give the waiter a tip or leave it on the table. It is usually ten or fifteen per cent of the grand total. I love eating in restaurant because the atmosphere is so intimate/familiar there and a soft music is sounding at the background not to mention you are served. But I rarely go to restaurant unless there is an occasion. We often go to a café or a pizzeria where we go Dutch.


  • Most people in Hungary eat more than necessary. Our calorie intake is about double the amount we actually need. People eat a lot of carbo-hydrates in food like bread, cakes and sugar, which are very fattening. I think we also eat more meat and protein than necessary, especially fatty meats (which) are favoured by most Hungarians. That is why there are so many fat people among us. A healthy diet should contain at least the same amount of fibre as fat. It should also contain the major nutrients, such as vitamins, protein, calories or iron. It should be high in vegetables and grains, with modest amount of meat. I would say: eat when you are hungry, but don’t force the food down when you are not. I have never been on a slimming diet because I’m on the skinny side. I don’t easily put on weight even if I eat a lot. I think we are so wasteful while in some parts of the world there are millions of people (who are) suffering from malnutrition. I get very upset when I see people wasting food (e.g. throw any bread into the dustbin). 
  • Last year I took one of my cousins to a good restaurant. She was wined and dined at my expense. We sat down at the corner and the waiter brought us the menu immediately. We both felt like some orange juice and apricot brandy first. Then we began to study the menu more closely. It contained a wide range of appetizers (hors-d’ oeuvres), that is: cold appetizers, soups, vegetables, meat dishes, salads, desserts, cheese, fruit and drinks. The waiter came up to our table and inquired what we would like to order. To start with I ordered fried cheese and a chicken soup ‘richly’ for her. I ordered slices of turkey with mushroom spreading whipped cream and rice as the main course for me and the other one was tenderloin steak with jacket potato. While waiting for the meal we were sipping our apricot brandy.Having had our supper, we drunk a full-bodied Hungarian wine from Badacsony. When it was the time for the sweet course we could hardly move. In the end we wanted to have a soft dessert like ice-cream and finished a glass of refreshment. We sat talking for a while then I called the waiter and settled the bill. I told him to keep the change. We left the restaurant with the enjoyable feeling that we had had a very good meal.



well-done-jól átsült hús

rare-véres (marhahús)


Készítette:  Somogyi Péter

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