Langos: Your travels aren't complete until you've tried this food

Travel News from Stuff - 13-11-2023

I have a weak spot for two things in life. Pizza and langos.

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I’ve made two important food pilgrimages to worship these foods. First, I went to the birthplace of pizza, Naples. The pizza there is mindbogglingly good, and nothing like you get at most places here in New Zealand.

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The chefs in Naples have a militant dedication to their craft and ingredients, right down to the pH of the water.

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The second trip, where my taste buds acted as my compass, was on the hunt for langos.

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What are these? It's a simple concept: a deep-fried flatbread with toppings like sour cream and cheese.

It’s a Hungarian speciality that was born hundreds of years ago. Bakers would traditionally bake bread once a week because it was expensive and time-consuming to heat the huge ovens.

Bakers would leave a little bit of dough aside, and cook it near the flame, so that they’d have a smaller piece ready sooner. That’s where its name came from – the Hungarian word for flame is “lang”.

Over the years, as baking practices changed and deep-frying became more popular, the modern langos ended up being fried and topped with a huge array of different flavours.

The classic (and most popular) combination of sour cream and cheese is unbeatable, but you can go from spicy sausage to sweet jam and countless variations between them.

There is no better place to try this delicacy than the Hungarian capital, Budapest. The city has one of Europe’s best skylines, crowned by the Hungarian Parliament building with its striking spires piercing the sky.

The city is bisected by the Danube River, with the historic Buda on one side – complete with the Unesco World Heritage Buda Castle – while the other side is known as Pest, and home to the more modern part of the city.

On the Pest side you’ll find the Central Market Hall, which is an emporium of Hungarian culture offering a kaleidoscope of fresh foods, gifts and clothing.

On the second storey, you’ll find a langos store – which apparently doesn’t have a name. It just has the word “langos” written on a red sign. But you won’t need directions, it’s the shop with the big queues.

The line is worth the wait. You’ll be rewarded with some of the crispiest langos, delivered to you fresh because it’s all made on demand. That’s one of the secrets to a good one – the hot bread needs to melt the toppings while it’s in your hand.

Budapest is one of my favourite cities on the planet. Thanks to langos, my taste buds agree.

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