Wine is a staple when it comes to gastronomy and Eger. There are two well-known types of wine made in Eger: Egri bikavér (“bull blood”) and Egri Csillag (“star”). Bikavér is a full-bodied dry red wine. According to a legend, the captain of the castle gave his men red wine during the Ottoman siege to bolster their courage. The soldiers of the opposing side seeing red liquid on their beards were terrified and started rumors that the defenders had drunk bulls’ blood. There is not much truth to this; red wine was not made in Hungary until later, when Serbians brought the necessary wine-making knowledge to the country. The name actually comes from János Garay, who compared red wine to a bull’s blood in a poem. Egri Csillag is a white wine. Its name also comes from a legend, albeit with much more truth to it. During the Ottoman occupation there were guard huts illuminated by torches at night in vineyards, which made safe travel at night possible. This is the origin of a widespread saying of the time. “When on your way to Eger follow the star of Eger”
A dessert specific to Eger is békadesszert: marzipan-coated chocolate in the shape of a frog. It may be too sweet for some, but worth a try for those with a sweet tooth.
Szépasszonyvölgy is 30 minutes from the city center on foot and has a host of options in wine houses and restaurants. For those who would like to eat in the inner city and are looking for something special, we recommend Macok Bisztró and Senátor-ház, both on Dobó István square. For those who prefer a quieter environment, more authentic Hungarian cuisine, or just a middle-ages themed restaurant, we recommend Excalibur Középkori Lovagi Étterem.
When visiting Hungary we would suggest trying some of the following dishes. Gulyásleves (goulash soup) is a chunky soup made from beef and vegetables and halászlé is a typically spicy fish soup made with hot red paprika that varies quite a bit from region to region. If possible, try at least one of them. For your main course: pörkölt nokedlivel, which is a type of stew with “dumplings”, and hortobágyi palacsinta, which is a savory pancake filled with ground meat and a sauce of sour cream with paprika are both great options.When craving street food or something quick, lángos is a must-try. Lángos is a deep-fried flatbread traditionally topped with sour cream, cheese, and garlic but most lángos places have a wide variety of toppings available. For dessert, consider mákosguba if you like poppy seeds, otherwise some other good choices would be kürtőskalács, somlói galuska, and zserbó. Bon appetit!
Cover photo: Eszterházy Károly University; photos: Shutterstock