For whatever reason, when we did our Hungary – Slovakia – Prague trip over the week of Easter, it never occurred to me to be excited for the Easter markets. I had marked the main one in Prague on a map for things to do, and I had the vague notion that the Catholic holidays were a big deal, but I guess when I was looking for places to drink beer and eat great local food, it had totally gone over my head to pay attention to these markets.
So it was with great glee when we happened to walk into an Easter market on our first night in Budapest. My eyes were immediately drawn to one of the food vendors, and I couldn’t have been more excited—Eastern Europe is well known for its meat-heavy and vegetable-light food, which has never been a problem for me. Add to that fact that I immediately saw a tray of stuffed cabbage, a food my family makes often and that I had been looking forward to trying in its natural habitat.
The markets were pretty evenly split between food vendors and those with trinkets and souvenirs. I didn’t worry about the latter, because I was there for the former. We found huge buffets of local food, including full meals, snacks, desserts, and even people who had made their own beer for the occasion. At the first market, I sat down with a beer and a huge piece of stuffed cabbage atop a potato latke, appropriately slathered with sour cream (which, if you’ve been to Hungary, you’ll know is the only way to eat anything).
The markets also offered local delicacies like langos (fried dough usually topped with sour cream and cheese, but those toppings can expand to include just about anything) and trdelnik, also known as chimney cakes. The trdelnik quickly became our favorite snack, and involved dough being wrapped around a roller and rolled over hot coals until it was cooked, and then dipped in sugar, with the option to add nuts or Nutella.
The markets were incredibly pleasant—none of them were packed, and between the cool spring weather and the people enjoying themselves, it was a great time to sit outside and enjoy some food or a drink. Especially the one we got to in Prague’s old town—while it was a bit chilly, the sun was out and the sky was blue; it was an ideal day to hang out.
The food was a tad different at the markets we hit in Prague, with much more focus on what you would consider typical German food – sausages, potato salad, and huge hocks of ham. The attractions and the market itself was pretty similar, though. They even had their own trdelnik, though that may have been surpassed snackwise by a ring of potato put on a stick and fried. It was like a long, homemade potato chip.
With the two things that I need to enjoy myself—beer and food—the markets delivered. They made for quality people-watching, and even better eating. And while both cities may have been a tad more packed with tourists than they normally would be due to the holiday (we were told thousands of people travel to Prague around Easter), I would highly recommend visiting during this time of year, if only for the food.