Hungarian chef introduces Turkish cuisine to world
Speaking to Anadolu Agency during her latest tour of Istanbul with a group of about 20 Hungarians, Agnes Toth expressed her admiration for Turkish cuisine and her love of Istanbul, the historic Ottoman capital and Turkey’s commercial capital.
“By virtue of its geography, Turkey has an incredibly rich culinary culture,” said Toth, who has been a culture and tourism ambassador between Turkey and Hungary for 15 years.
Saying how she first came to Turkey as a tourist 15 years ago, Toth noted, “I loved Turkish culture and language, and I decided to advance myself in these areas.”
After honing Turkish recipes that she started to learn while picking up the Turkish language, with frequent visits to Istanbul, Toth continues to get training from Turkish chiefs on the local cuisine.
She noted that there were no good Turkish restaurants in Budapest and Hungarians knew little about Turkish cuisine besides meat doners and baklava dessert while she was studying in the city.
“I used to be constantly asked where to get good Turkish food in Budapest. Since there were no good Turkish restaurants to recommend in Budapest, I started bringing Hungarians to Turkey,” she said.
Pointing out that Turkish and Hungarian cultures have similarities as well as differences,
Toth also highlighted some features that make Turkish cuisine rich.
“Each region is incredibly rich and different from each other,” she said.
“The Aegean region and southeast are different from each other and have their own characteristics. That’s why I can find anything in Turkey,” she noted.
Toth cited “meat, rich home cooking, and the use of spices in the east, light meals, dishes with olive oil and vegetables in the Aegean region. Everyone can find something to fit their taste. Although Hungarian cuisine is rich, it’s not as rich as the Turkish cuisine.”
“We also don’t have an appetizer [mezze] culture. Here, the dishes are served at the table and dished up. This is something new for Hungarians,” she said.
Adding that the similarities between Hungary and Turkey date back to the Ottoman era, Toth said that the use of eggplant and red pepper was inherited from that period.
Voicing her love for Istanbul, she said that Istanbul was like a summary of Turkey.
“We can find minorities, different religions and languages. It shows both its modern and traditional face,” Toth noted.