Hungarian Goulash has always fascinated people regardless of their cultural background. This history rich culinary treasure has been the topic of many discussions around tables all over the world for centuries. However, the secrets lies so deep in our culinary history that only a brief historical review of Hungary could shed light to the sometimes misunderstood origin of today’s world-famous national dish of Hungarians or Magyars as we call ourselves in Hungarian.
Goulash actually means “Herdsman” in Hungarian and perhaps because they had the best and freshest ingredients, created the most mouth-watering dishes in cauldrons outside in mainly harsh conditions, they do deserve this national treasure to be named after them. Hungarian Goulash did not always have the bright red colour that it’s so famous for today. Actually Hungary did not even know paprika until the Turks invaded and occupied Hungary for 150 years (1526-1699), bringing with them more exotic spices and the still loved coffee.
Although papika is the symbol of many Hungarian dishes, and our national spice, the plant was mostly used as decoration s the Turks brought the plant to Hungary during the 16th-17th century. Shepherds and herdsmen, who had more contact with the invader Turks, started to spice their meals with the fiery red powder. From the herdsmen’s cauldrons, the paprika gradually spiced up the dishes of peasants and eventually showed up at the tables of the reluctant aristocracy. Red paprika’s 200-year-journey created something so memorable that perhaps there is no country in the world that did not hear about our fiery dish. But I promised you the history of Hungarian Goulashand not red paprika, however today’s Hungarian Goulash doesn’t exist without Hungarian red paprika…
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