ROOT | VERSE

narratives of food, drink, & life

Tag: street food

Lángos: Deep-Fried Death Trap

Lángos.

The culinary equivalent of it sounded like a good idea at the time. 

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During our month long stay in Budapest, we ate this dangerous/amazing street food five times. Each time we did, the experience became both progressively better and worse.

There are Serbian, Czech, Polish, and other variations on Lángos but Hungarians are the progenitors of this amazing heart attack food.

Lángos is deep-fried bread essentially, with a yeasty dough that sometimes includes potatoes and sour cream which makes it almost like a mutant latke. The dough (roughly the size of a small pizza) is dropped into a vat of oil, and slathered with garlic sauce, sour cream, and mounds of cheese.

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The way people talk about Lángos in Budapest is similar to the way New Yorkers talk about pizza, which is initially what attracted me to it–that and the carnal grossness of the food itself. For such a simple set of ingredients there was an amazing amount of variation among the Lángos that we tried.

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In search of the perfect specimen, I found three major categories:

-The Death Cracker: with less yeast and no potato, this version was crunchy and oily. We found these at a couple of markets, none of which were recommended to us.

-The Nuclear Lattke: These contained mostly shredded potato, but were topped and prepared just as traditional Lángos is. Not the original, but satisfying nonetheless. This popular variation is sometimes called “Potato Lángos” or krumplis lángos

-The Last Supper: There are some Lángos that are softer..the dough is thicker, almost like a pizza crust. We found our favorite through our friend Kalman, who swore it to be the best, at the market on the Buda side of the city called Feny Utca Market.

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I now believe that in the manner in which cats are said to have nine lives, humans are given around five Lángos before the body revolts. Once the quota is surpassed, the territory is treacherous.  So choose your Lángos wisely, and the experience will be unforgettable.

Sur Mara, Belgrade

Pljeskavice

Pljeskavica is a Balkan staple, traditionally featuring ground patties of varying meats. The patties often include Beef, Lamb, Pork, and are sometimes mixed with onions and garlic.

At Sur Mara, a local favorite in Belgrade, the patties are served with hunks of cheese, sour cream, pickled cabbage, mayonnaise, mustard, and chili flakes. The buns are soft and lightly crisped. It’s a super-powered In-N-Out burger (for you Californians out there).

Quite simply the best “Hamburger” I’ve ever eaten.

Marché des Enfants Rouges, Paris

Le Marché des Enfants Rouges

The oldest covered market in a city of covered markets.

Founded in the 17th century, Marché Des Enfant Rouges (‘the market of the red children’), was named as such after a neighboring orphanage where the children wore red uniforms.

Easily missed through a small iron gate between two businesses on the crowded and narrow streets of the Marais.

Past the flower shops, and old postcards wrapped in plastic. Past the white peaches, the bright green pears, and the tins filled with lavender stalks.

A long glass case with crumbled cheeses, piles of couscous, yogurt, and hummus.

Rotisserie chicken and the tenderest lamb in a light tomato sauce, Merguez sausage and couscous.

We lingered for a while, watching the mild bustle of Parisians and tourists moving back and forth along Rue Bretagne.

Las Du Falafel, Paris

Las Du Falafel

It has been called “The Falafel destination of Paris, indeed of Europe”, and “Without a doubt, the best falafel in Paris.”

Mighty words to live up to. Words I hoped deeply to ratify by the judgement of my own taste buds…so I made L’As Du Falafel, located in the Old Jewish Quarter of the Marais in Paris, my first destination.

I was not disappointed.

L’As du Falafel is a place that makes you re-consider what makes good street food.

The greatest quick eats I’ve encountered always do a narrow set of things exceptionally well, and nothing is overlooked in this, perhaps the best falafel I’ve ever had.

Mainly, the cabbage is not soggy, or loaded down with vinegar, the falafels are crispy without being oily, or dry. I would have been perfectly content with a Srirracha-like hot sauce but this was homemade, balanced and not overpowering.

In the most unlikely of places, I found an unparalleled example of the falafel sandwich.

Twice.