As I wrote about Hungarian Goulash the other day, I thought it would be a good time to investigate paprika. Paprika was unknown in Europe until the discovery of America. It's made by griding up dried red chili peppers to form a colourful powder and is used in the cooking of Eastern Europe, Spain, Portugal and The American Deep South; where they cook interesting dishes like Paprika Chicken and Sour Cream.
Hungarian paprika comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes: Eros (Hot), Rozsa (Rose), Csemegepaprika (Exquisite Delicate); and there are also smoked varieties for increased flavour.
Here in jolly old England, it can be hard to find the better brands. For years, we've been used to buying our paprika in little glass jars from the supermarket spice rack. Out of sheer laziness on my part, I used an old jar of this the other day, and my goulash went brown in colour; and didn't taste that great- so be warned. But if you have a look in the deli sections, you may well be able to find decent Spanish smoked paprika. It comes in small tins.
I'm currently using the "smoked and sweet" version for my goulash, but in theory, I should be able to find "bitter sweet" and 'hot". One of the advantages of the recent influx of East Europeans into London is that Polish food is beginning to creep onto supermarket shelves as a matter of course.
I was down at my local corner shop yesterday, and there were interesting jars of pickled sausages and seurkraut, and god know what else, in a newly created section. I realise that there are less Hungarians here, but it would be lovely to see proper Hungarian paprika making an appearance too. Otherwise it's going to have to be a trip to the new Wholefoods Emporium in Kensington High Street.