Paprika isn’t always paprika
When Hungarians speak of “paprika,” they could be referring either to the whole pods of different members of the capsicum family or to the spice obtained from them. Fresh bell peppers, for example, feature just as largely in many Hungarian dishes as the spice does, and they are equally popular raw. And it’s not surprising that they should be so popular; they are available in such a range of colors, shapes, and flavors, that it is impossible to tire of them.
Stroll across any market and admire the brightly colored, endless variety on display, from the acid-green, hot “pods,” which the stallholders describe as “atom-hot,” to the innocuous-looking but almost lethal yellow “banana chili,” to the countless yellow, green, and bright red sweet peppers.
Hungary produces exceptionally tasty peppers, and because they have thin skins, they are easy to digest as well. Just try them once, and you will understand why the Hungarians are so enthusiastic about them.
The aroma must be due to the ideal conditions in which they are grown on the Great Plain. The climate and soil conditions are practically predestined for vegetable-growing in general, and paprika-growing in particular: fertile loessial soil, long hot summers with little rain, and some 2000 to 2200 hours of sunshine every year.
Different types of Hungarian paprika
Tölteni való paprika (paprika for stuffing): Sweet or medium hot peppers, eaten raw or used in cooking.
Bogyiszlói (banana chili): Aromatic, very hot peppers, eaten raw or used in cooking.
Almapaprika (apple paprika): Whether sweet, mild, or very hot, this type is often pickled in vinegar.
Kosszarvú (ram’s horn): Sweet, aromatic peppers that are popular raw, but also used in cooking
Cseresznyepaprika (cherry paprika): Very hot, good fresh or dried for adding aroma to dishes, and also for eating as they are.
Hegyes erős (cayenne peppers): Use as cseresznyepaprika
Paradicsompaprika (sweet bell pepper): Pleasantly sweet aroma, high in vitamin C, used raw.