Marvellous Market #3: Great Market Hall, Budapest

Great Market Hall - Budapest

The Great Market Hall in Budapest

You know a city is serious about food when it builds a giant, purpose built market smack in the middle of the city (Sydney are you listening? Take note please).

Great Market Hall - Budapest

The market’s beautiful interior, looking down on the ground floor

That’s what the Hungarians did in the late 19th century when they built the Great Market Hall. Despite some knocks during the World Wars, a renovation has kept it looking sharp as one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.

Great Market Hall - Budapest

Rows of immaculately displayed local products adorn the food stalls

But it’s what’s inside that is really exciting. While the first floor features local handicrafts including traditional Magyar dress and collectables, the ground floor and basement are dedicated to food. Rows and rows of glistening fresh produce, endless stands of paprika and chilli and plenty of local delicacies are enjoyed by locals and tourists.

Great Market Hall - Budapest

Paprika and pepper in every possible form

The paprika stands are works of art – sachets, tubs and tubes of the stuff (spicy or sweet) are carefully arranged in colourful rows along with strings of dried peppers and garlic.

Great Market Hall - Budapest (5)

How can you not smile at the Smiley Shop?

Great Market Hall - Budapest (19)

Owls, ghosts, cats, mushrooms and other random pickle shapes

One thing Hungarians LOVE are pickles. Pickles and sauerkraut. They have their own dedicated area – ‘pickle alley’ in the basement floor. What I especially love is the creativity involved, with jars displaying cute messages and smiley faces made from the pickles, plus a massive array of sauerkraut-stuffed pickled vegetables.

Great Market Hall - Budapest

Sauerkraut is measured by the pitchfork

If that is all too fancy for you though, you can just go for a pitchfork of the good stuff. It’s so cheap too – I think Hungarians would baulk if they saw the prices of fermented vegies that are all the rage in Australia right now.

Great Market Hall - Budapest

Strudel as far as the eye can see

The bakery section is one of my favourites, no surprises there. I can never get enough strudel when I’m in Hungary (there’s that genius Viennese influence) and there are always at least a dozen options on offer, from cheese to apple or pumpkin.

Great Market Hall - Budapest (2)

Sajtos roló – otherwise known as extremely cheesy pastries, inside and out

My favourite pastry is also the most unusual looking – before I tried it I had no idea if it was sweet or savoury but didn’t care when it looked that good. Called sajtos roló, it’s a long piece of pastry filled with cream cheese with each end dipped in grated cheese. It’s both sweet and savoury and utterly delicious.

Great Market Hall - Budapest

Dozens of cheeses surround a vat of thick plum jam

The dairy section is another I gravitate towards, especially when I find a big vat of dark purple goo sitting pretty amongst the cheese. Szilvalekvár is plum jam which is a match made in heaven with the smoked Hungarian cheese I love so much.

Great Market Hall - Budapest

The meat alley in the market is usually three people deep

Meat is an important food group in Hungary and there are rows of salamis and cured meats hanging proud, ready to be matched with some of the aforementioned spices. I also spot the coveted mangalitsa pork in the form of sausages and salami. This Old World breed pig is indigenous to Hungary and considered one of the tastiest in the world due to its high fat content.

Great Market Hall - Budapest

Fresh vegetables are always a welcome sight

There are plenty of fresh vegetables too, although I don’t find these nearly as interesting as the pickled and preserved variety.

Great Market Hall - Budapest

This conscientious display will ensure you never eat the wrong mushroom again

Great Market Hall - Budapest

My favourite section of the whole market is (quite surprisingly) an inedible one – a display of all the mushrooms found in Hungary’s woods with a strict key explaining which you can eat and which are poisonous. It’s like some kind of quaint science project but I love the attention to detail.

Great Market Hall - Budapest

I pretty much bought a bit of everything in this photo…

I always buy up big at the Great Market Hall but the prices are very forgiving. I’ve run out of paprika though, so I’m hoping a care package might tide me over until my next trip…

This is my third food market debrief, following Dolac Market in Zagreb and Mercat Olivar in Mallorca.

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3 comments

  1. @askans · October 6, 2015

    This is a lovely and friendly post on the Budapest Central Market Hall. I like best your quote which contains a lot of truth: “You know a city is serious about food when it builds a giant, purpose built market smack in the middle of the city”. Nevertheless I think that this market is a little too much tourist oriented and that the choice is partly limited. Still I was charmed by the funny pickles, I never saw this somewhere else 🙂
    And you made very nice photos!
    And here my take on this market hall: http://askan.biz/2014/05/29/central-market-hall-budapest-hungary/

    Like

    • thefidgetyfoodie · October 7, 2015

      Yes it definitely had a touristy angle, being in the middle of town, but I know lots of locals still visit for their regular shopping. I also like their monthly pop ups which focus on a particular cuisine or region.

      Like

  2. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella · October 20, 2015

    Wow sauerkraut with a pitchfork! Interesting! I really wish Sydney had a place like this too.

    Like

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