The Hungarian countryside is a storybook landscape of small hamlets, rustic churches, soaring castles, and small cafés. Budapest, the country’s capitol, is often called the “Paris of Eastern Europe” because of its broad avenues, graceful architecture, parks, and bounty culture. The country has one of the finest folk traditions in Europe, producing excellent embroidery, pottery, carvings and a variety of music.
Hungarians are very independent and value human rights. However, families are traditional in their ways and maintain a rather patriarchal family structure. Parents are usually protective of their children. Everyone shares in the housework, and families enjoy spending time together on the weekends.
It is said that the Hungarian kitchen is the third best after the French and the Chinese. Culinary habits are changing now, so the food is lighter than in the past but without losing its great flavors. Typical Hungarian dishes tend to be hearty. A traditional favorite is goulash, a soup with meat, potatoes, onions and paprika; another is pörkölt, a stew. Paprika and other spices and sauces are used in many dishes.
The official language is Magyar, also known as Hungarian. Half of Hungarians are Roman Catholic. Calvinists, Lutherans and Jews make up most of the rest.