Cities in Europe have the most fantastic local markets. We have come to appreciate the experience of walking through the local markets absorbing the sights, sounds and tastes. One can find a wide array of fresh local produce, meats, cheese, fishes, nuts, and much much more. Additionally, many markets have stands that serve up fresh local fare to be enjoyed on the spot.
One afternoon as we explored Budapest on foot, we journeyed to the far end of Váci Utca (the main pedestrian street) where the Central Market, Nagycsarnok, is located. We wandered the main floor scoping out the fresh offerings. As we headed towards the door empty handed, we saw a local woman making her way down the stairs with a fluffy pastry and pizza-like delight. At that moment, we decided we should tour the top floor of the market to see what tasty treats might be available. After all, we needed to find a snack to help fuel us for further explorations and the long walk back to our apartment!
The Langos Stand
We made our way upstairs and browsed the food stands on the second floor. We quickly found the fluffy pizza-like snack at the langos stand. Langos (pronounced lang-goash) is a fluffy pastry that is lightly fried and then topped with any number of fresh ingredients.
As we passed the stand, there were sample langos on display to entice passersby. All of the samples were sparsely topped with a wide array of fresh veggies, sour cream and cheese. It looked delicious! We decided it would be the perfect snack so Kevin ordered by pointing at the sample on the counter.
The woman behind the counter jumped into action and began making our langos to order. She added sour cream, grated cheese, and then proceeded to add spoonfuls of every topping available including tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, pepperoni, bell peppers (red, green, yellow), peppers (spicy), dill sauce, and feta cheese. As she pilled on the toppings, the size of the Langos grew! We looked at each other then at the sample on the counter and then at the posted menu. Our langos looked nothing like the sample on the counter. Instead of a sparse layer of toppings, we had multiple spoonfuls on our langos—good thing we only ordered one to share!
As the lady continued heaping toppings on our langos, I tried to determine which menu item we ordered so we could determine the cost. It wasn’t at all clear in the moment. I did notice a price list on the counter that outlined each topping and its associated price. I looked at Kevin and said, “Uh oh, we might be charged separately for each topping.”
Once she finished with the toppings, she placed it on the counter and stuck two forks and knives into the pile of toppings. We proceeded to order beers and I went to find a table while Kevin paid the bill. Kevin brought the langos and the beers to the table and I about fell out of my seat when he said the total was 5080 font. That equates to about $23 USD. Based on the menu, the two large beers were a total 1100 font (or about $5 USD) which means that our little snack cost us nearly 4000 font, or $18 USD!
As we ate our most expensive snack ever, we observed as other naive tourists approached the counter, some of which made the same mistake we did by just pointing and ordering without knowing the catch. We heard one person ask and it was told to them that it was #5 (langos with sour cream and cheese) and the each additional topping was an additional cost, as outlined on a separate sheet.
Our fully loaded langos was very filling and quite tasty. However, we later learned that locals typically eat a langos with just sour cream and cheese, or with sour cream and garlic. This simple recipe also comes with a much more reasonable price tag: ~500 font or ~2.50 USD). We have also learned that it is best to stop and look at the menu before ordering! Vendors are always looking to take advantage of clueless tourists and this langos stand had it down to perfection.