While located in Central Europe, Budapest was planned and built in the decidedly Western style of Paris and Vienna. It is the largest city of a relatively obscure country, and it’s teeming with Jewish history and rich culinary culture.
Last month I blogged about embarking on a culinary adventure with excitement, anticipation and a bit of anxiety: I started kosher culinary school. I wanted to find out, can kosher food really be gourmet? One month into my training, I haven’t come up with a definitive answer, but I have gained a few insights on the topic, taken my first good look at the competitive food service industry and become a more adept chopper to boot!
Every time Bravo’s Top Chef begins a new season, I watch with eagerness, excitement, and like any kosher-keeping fan of the show, a twinge of jealousy. Not only because the winning dish always seems to include bacon or because all that oyster ceviche looks so tasty, but because I know that there will never be a kosher contestant on the show.
Most New Yorkers I’ve spoken to think Hungarian cooking is the oil-soaked stuffed cabbage served up at every synagogue dinner or worse, the dry kokosh cake (a long yeast-chocolate roulade) old-fashioned New York bakeries so pride themselves on. But good Hungarian food, the kind made lovingly in private kitchens, is completely different, almost unidentifiable to those outside the Hungarian community. Like any country’s food, Hungarian specialties are only “authentic” when they’re done well.