For many Hungarians the 150-year Turkish occupation is considered as a rather dark chapter of their history. And not without a reason: Hungary, serving as a shield between the Habsburg and Ottoman empires, lost not only its sovereignty but much territory and many human lives. However, the occupation also brought cultural influences that became a vital part of our everyday lives – and what is most important, in a positive way.
What would the Hungarian cuisine be without…
… Paprika, for example. Before the Turks brought paprika to Hungary, the most common spices used were dill, marjoram and rosemary. Today you can’t separate paprika from the national dishes any more: It is found in many dishes, such as “paprikáscsirke” (paprika chicken). However, this is by far not everything new that arrived in the country around that time – and stayed with us. Tomatoes, corn, cherries and quinces were not known before either. Neither did we fill our vegetables, which is also a custom coming from the Ottoman Empire.
Practising Moslems avoid eating pork. Despite the various religions of the Ottoman troops, pork was for the major part preserved as the main meat supply for the Hungarian population. These circumstances influenced the Hungarians to try more and more dishes based on pork. Over time it became an elementary ingredient in the Hungarian cuisine for this reason.
But not only heavy dishes were introduced. The Turkish people brought baklava from the Near East and later the Ottomans carried it on to Hungary, and it is still characteristic in many of our desserts today. Its dough was used to create the base for strudels. And it happened also during the occupation that croissants first found their way onto Hungarian plates.
And what would Budapest be without its grand cafés? We can still feel the Ottoman influence even today in this area as well, as the first cafés were founded during those 150 years.
The Király Bath
Budapest is known among many other things for its bathing culture. Especially on the banks of the Danube you can still find baths that have been preserved and are still in operation, for example the Király Bath (District II) and the Rudas Bath (District I).
The Ottoman architecture has also left its magnificent traces here, even if it did not follow one uniform style.
“I have a lot of apples in my pocket”: it may not be a sentence you hear every day but it is a good example that shows there can be only a small difference whether you say it in Hungarian or in Turkish: “Zzsebemben sok alma van” as opposed to “Çebimde çok elma var”. Besides the word “alma” (apple) there are others such as “kapu” (gate) or “oroszlán” (lion) that are almost identical to their Turkish counterpart.
When you see a list of Hungarian words, you will find that about 9.5% of them are similar or even identical to the corresponding Turkish word. For comparison: in the Finnish language, which is the language closest to Hungarian, there are about 20% overlaps.
The Hungarian language was also influenced due to the close cultural exchange between the Hungarians and the Turkish before the occupation in the area of today’s Hungary. via budapesttimes.hu