Campfire Cooking – A Shopping Expedition!

Over the years, I’ve become fascinated with the history and evolution of regional recipes and methods of preparation. Austro-Hungarian cuisine is no exception.

As many of you know, the Saturday market ‘Mosoni Piac‘ is my regular go-to spot for fresh vegetables, huge bags of paprika and a dizzying array of peculiar culinary gadgets. These days, I’m all about the campfire cooking equipment. It began innocently enough with an invitation to join a small neighbourly party where goulash was served up as the main course. This was followed by a New Year’s gathering around a simmering pot of mulled wine. These outings revolved around a simple fire pan, a tripod and a kotlich (or ‘bogrács’ in Hungarian). Hanging out around the fire, enjoying good food, wine and the company of new friends was a pure delight.

Kettle cooking along the plains of central Europe was traditionally a ‘man’s job’ – fit for herdsmen, farmers and labourers who worked in the fields from dawn to dusk. But who cares about traditional gender roles, eh? Why should boys have all the fun?

If you’re planning a European camping trip, Hungary would be a great place to start your journey. There’s plenty of equipment to choose from at the local markets and the prices are excellent. While I’m still developing my collection of regional campfire cooking equipment, I’ll start out with a description of the basics and a few other unique items I’ve found along the way.

Tripod:

The first thing on my list was obviously a tripod! I found a great 120 cm folding iron one (photo 1) at the market along with a 6 and a 10 liter ‘bogrács’ (photo 2). The ‘bogrács’ don’t traditionally have a lid, however I was able to find one in the 10 liter size at the market. This is handy to keep the flies off! The 6 liter pot serves 2 to 4 people well, but any more and you’d be better off with a larger size.

Bogrács & Fish Pots:

There are different types of pots available which you can see below. Bogrács typically flare out at the top which you can see in photos 1 and 2. These are used for goulash. For fish soup, the shape is a little bit different tapering in at the top (see in photo 3). Finally there is a wide-mouthed pot (4). I’m not really sure what this pot is supposed to be used for, but I think it would be perfect for corn on the cob or a pot full of muscles.

Skewers:

I also found some lovely long skewers for roasting marshmallows or shish-kabobs. These are easy to clean and way better than hunting around the woods looking for green sticks and twigs.

Tiffin Pans:

Around Moson, I also found some great tiffin pans. Granted, these are not really ‘Hungarian’ and I do have a smaller one brought back from Thailand but I found it at a great price and they are perfect for carrying food and can be used as extra bowls when neighbouring campers or hosts decide to pop by around dinner time!

Paella Pans:

Next up on the list of fantastic camping cookware is this awesome paella pan. This item is still on my wish list but it’s available at Mosoni Piac. Now, while you could always use the paella pan for making paella, you could also fry up some onions and sausage, stir-fries, pasta, chicken paprikás, breakfast omelets or any number of things.

Camping Cutlery:

Now while most of the items posted are available through my favourite vendor (top photo), you can also find rucksacks and handy cutlery sets with the gentlemen selling old military gear and the like.

Suspended Frying Pan:

Finally, the coup d’état was this amazing frying pan. Shaped a bit like a shallow wok, all of the bacon drippings slip right into the middle – perfect for making home-fries. While the pan is heavy, the center peg conveniently screws out for easy transportation and it’s super easy to clean.

What’s your favourite campfire cookware? I’d love to hear from you!

Please share your recipes and stories below.

Saturday Mornings at Mosoni Piac, Moson Farmer’s Market

Farmer's Market, Mosoni Pia, Mosonmagyaróvár, HungarySaturday Mornings at Mosoni Piac

There is something charming and romantic about European markets. Whether you’re an expat or a tourist just passing through, a visit to the farmer’s markets is a great way to absorb the local culture and get a taste for the regional cuisine.

Mosonmagyaróvár – known as Óvár amongst locals and Moson by foreigners – lies along the Hungarian border with Slovakia and Austria. The market is located along Ostermayer Street by the Chapel Square. Unlike the large central markets in Vienna and Budapest, this quaint little weekly market caters mostly to locals.

The Moson market – known as Mosoni Piac – is a feast for the senses. Breath in the pungent aroma of smoked paprika, feel the texture of ripened fruit in your hands, watch market-goers chat with the vendors while they fill their wicker baskets, and listen to the intoxicating sounds of Hungarian folk music as you indulge your taste buds with juicy sausage or deep-fried lángos (traditional flat bread) slathered in garlic and topped with grated cheese.

When to Go:

Throughout the year, local farmers and vendors arrive in the wee hours every Saturday morning to set up shop and prepare for the day ahead. The market runs all day, but the best time to visit is between 8 to 11 am as many vendors start shutting down around noon. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the weather. While the market takes place rain or shine, you’ll find the best results when the weather is fine and vendors expect a good turn-out.

What You’ll Find:

Making your way through the kiosks, you’ll find fresh fruit and vegetables, honey and bee pollen, strings of garlic and dried peppers, and copious amounts of sweet, hot and smoked paprika. Other local delicacies commonly found at the market include mangalica pork and rolls of parenyica (a traditional smoked cheese). Depending on the season, you’ll also find savoury wild mushrooms or lush bundles of fragrant wild garlic leaves (called Bärlauch in German).

At the other end of the market, you’ll find a small flee market with a large selection of kitchenware, used books, clothing, hand-made wooden furniture, bicycles and other random items for sale.

What to Eat:

Take a break from shopping and grab a bit to eat by the town clock in the heart of the market. Here you can find grilled sausages, savoury lángos or satisfy your sweet tooth with chimney cakes baked on a spit over an open fire.

Things To Do:

Why not combine your visit with a wellness retreat. Take advantage of scenic bicycling routes, thermal baths, or visit one of the many massage parlours or beauty salons. With costs significantly less on the Hungarian side of the border, the town has also become a popular spot for low-cost dental tourism with more than 150 practicing dentists.

Have you been to Mosoni Pia? I’d love to hear your thoughts!