The Hungarian Canteen or ‘Menza’ – Part 1
The other day I was having a pleasant and definitely funny conversation with a couple of colleagues about memories from the elementary school dining hall. While digging up signature meals of our different schools’ kitchens, we came to the conclusion that – apart from a few ‘deviations’ of those of us who went to a countryside school – we all grew up eating the same food during our school time. Let me add here that we are all more-or less the same age, but the menu in the schools did not really change since we left: today’s kids are now enjoying the very same variety of dishes in the public schools of the Hungarian capital.
Side note: many of the schools are receiving food delivery from the same company, however this is not the only reason for the suspicious similarities in our food-related memories. Let’s face it, these dishes are classic! Ask any Hungarian who grew up in Hungary, all of them will know these, and it will usually provoke negative thoughts in the interviewed persons. However these meals, when prepared ‘correctly’, are really good and satisfying! We might get back to the recipes another day
Photo Source: origo.hu
So let’s see the drill, shall we?
The typical first course
when any, it was a soup. Best described as a tasteless, thin liquid with ‘high nutritional value’ : ) Jokes apart, it barely had anything in it and always tasted the same, but really nobody cared as you could simply skip it and get to the main course!
Photo Source: bucsus.blog.hu
The typical main course
There was a wider variety here than that of the first course, but always only 1 choice. You either wanted to eat it or left with empty stomach, it was up to you to decide! Although I don’t remember leaving anything untouched, hunger was always stronger than my picky nature. The list of dishes (standard rotation, never repeating on 2 consecutive days):
Főzelék: signature Hungarian ‘thick soup’, multiple variations, very very few pieces of vegetables and lots of liquid. The favorite choice of the food delivery company (or who knows who decided on the menu?) was a variation called ‘finom’ főzelék = ‘tasty’ thick soup, which consists of carrot cubes and green peas in a lake of the before mentioned liquid. I have never ever met anyone who actually liked this thing, however I have to add, when prepared the right way (way more veggies than liquid, correct spices etc) it really is a hearty meal. I might even do a post about it one day! (Until then you can check out my other főzelék posts: Potato főzelék here and Green Pea főzelék here.)
Finomfőzelék. Photo Source: receptek.laptopkonyha.hu
There was normally something on top of the főzelék to accompany it, it is worth mentioning the breaded and fried pariser (or lyonel) slice. Must be a Hungaricum!
Click here for Part 2.