Where to Get Food and Stuff in Hungary

Dear tourist, why would you ever come to Hungary? Is it the hundred year old buildings, is it the caves or the thermal baths, hiking routes or sight-seeing? I don’t know, you tell me. But since you are here now, obviously you need food.
The best way to get food is to go out and shop for some. Technically you can go hunting, although without a license, it is illegal. And then you just have to hunt for people, and you go down a path that is not really encouraged by our society. So don’t be Hannibal Lecter.
Go out and find a suitable supermarket for yourself. Big ones are the cheapest. You could go on and talk about how unhealthy food there is, but we are not talking about hamburgers and fast food and all that ugly stuff. We are talking about ingredients and chocolate.


Now, the way big supermarkets work, such as Auchan or Tesco, is quite simple. Their salesmen go around the country and try to find local people that could sell the products to them and then, of course, people are going to supermarkets and buy the products. There are all sorts of restrictions and rules they have to obey. So there are some products that you can’t find in big supermarkets, mainly because Auchan or Tesco don’t deal with products with short expiration periods.

Tesco_sign            auchan_belostok

Chocolate, obviously, doesn’t expire in short time so here are some ideas what you could get.
First and famous brand I enjoyed throughout my childhood it is simply called – Sport. It comes in many forms, mostly in a green package. It is small and enjoyable.
Next one is Balaton, a famous chocolate named after the famous lake that is the biggest in Hungary. It is quite crunchy, not the best in the world, but you can enjoy 1 or 2 while you are going around, sight-seeing.
There are brands that barely survived from the communism era so, for instance, a chocolate called Budapest can now be purchased again in stores but it was absent for many years.
When I go abroad to visit some friends, I always bring some chocolate with myself and I always include this 3 brands at least. But that’s not all I usually bring because you can’t live on chocolate for a long time. Ideally, I need to cook something.
Lots of people find Hungarian recipes on the Internet and try to make food using it, but somehow it is not perfect, it always tastes different. Of course, it is because you might not have all the ingredients, and if you keep substituting one after another, you get a different taste. Lots of people believe that paprika in powder form is the sole ingredient you need to make Hungarian food. It is not true. You also need one of these too: vegeta or delikát. Both of them are mixture of spices. It always taste the same and it makes the food more Hungarian.
Hungarian food is often not complicated. If you go around a big supermarket and you buy some potatoes which are quite inexpensive, some flour and some delikát, you can make yourself a fine macok or lepcsánka using some oil and little garlic. You can find the article on this website about that particular food, actually.

So when you go around and, we assume that you have gotten used to a new currency, forint  you noticed that lots of things are quite cheap. Now I have a theory why: when I go to Vienna, London or any western city with a currency euro, pounds or even dollars, these are quite powerful currencies and 1 dollar or 1 euro is worth a lot. At the time of writing this article, 1 euro is about 310 forints, so if you divide 1 euro into 300 portions and go around the supermarket as an average Hungarian, you will find everything incredibly expensive. Because if we had Vienna prices, for instance, everything would start around 1 euro which is 300 forints but if you buy a Sport chocolate bar, you will notice it is about 80 forints, maybe. And if you buy bread rolls, they are quite cheap individually, so with our currency we have the option of buying lots of little things individually because in a package the price would seem quite high.

So this way visitors might have an impression that Hungary is an incredibly cheap country. However it is not exactly the case because if you look at the prices of LCD TVs and compare it to the Western European stores, you’ll notice that there is not much difference. I would even go one step further and say that sometimes I prefer ordering some products using Amazon from the United States or from Western Europe, for example, because it is cheaper there.
Hungary has a sales tax of 27%. It is incredibly high compared to Europe, and it is partly responsible for high prices. So if you had the brilliant idea of coming to Hungary and buy lots of cheap stuff, you might not succeed with your plan.
However if you wish to buy some Hungarian brands, there is nowhere else to go. You noticed that we have lots of American and Western European brands. People in Hungary prefer to buy these simply because they look cooler. Don’t forget that Hungary is a small country, as a small country it cannot produce a large number of brands like the USA, for instance.
So to close this article let me share some interesting Hungarian brands with you in a form of pictures. Enjoy!

sportszeletjegkrem1_ balaton     budapest


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About the Author: Chris Kovacs

Technical Consultant, Traveller, Filmmaker & Photographer
Much like most people, I like to be all sorts of things.

P.S.: some of articles are edited and co-written by a mysterious person called Tatjana. But I take all the credit.

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