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Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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Budapest is the capital of Hungary, a nation of sweet-lovers with one of Europe’s great baking traditions. The city offers an array of sweets from kürtőskalács (chimney cake) sold by street vendors and rétes (strudel) sold from tiny shop windows, to fairy-tale creations sold at cukrászdas (patisseries) that have been honing their skills for generations. Sweets are omnipresent in Budapest, found at elegant cafés (perfect for lingering over espresso and cake), hectic bakeries (where tables are standing-only and to-go orders are plentiful), elegant chocolate shops, and kiosks on the street. Before cane sugar was introduced in the fourteenth century, honey was the sweetener used to produce a wide range of mézeskalács (honey cake). See honey. This fondness for honey-sweetened cakes remains, particularly at festivals and fairs when vendors sell brightly iced honey cakes in various shapes. See fairs. Sugar appeared on the menus of royal feasts in the fifteenth century, a time of rigid division among craftsmen. As George Lang explains in The Cuisine of Hungary (1971), confectionery “was the exclusive privilege of the guild of pharmacists, as was the making of spiced drinks and perfumes” (p. 12).