While I still can’t bring myself to dip my fries in Dutch mayo (though I’ll happily drown every meal in their peanut sauce), I recently suspended my aversion to mismatched condiments to try langoš. Langoš is street food that can be found where people want an easy and delicious snack—train stations, festivals, even bus stop kiosks. It’s Central Europe’s answer to pizza—flat bread with sauce and toppings. In Slovakia, garlic, ketchup, cheese, and tartar sauce are the typical choices, some places also offer sour cream and chocolate.
I ate my first langoš at the train station bufet (a cross between a snack bar and an actual bar) in Starý Smokovec, a town in the High Tatras. (Side note: if you want cheap, authentic meals while traveling, check out the train station snack bars and restaurants. Local commuters love cheap, quick food, and some stations have some real gems.) This bufet sold cold draft beer for pocket change, “hamburgers” (made with a slab of ham instead of beef for the patty), various packaged snacks, and langoš.
“What’s langoš?” I asked Peter after seeing three teenagers at the next table happily chewing something hot and cheesy. Five minutes later, our langoš arrived on an oil-soaked square of butcher paper.
The flat bread—very similar to Native American fry bread—is really the highlight of langoš. It’s lightly fried, crispy and chewy, and it can be pulled apart or folded and eaten like a taco. The garlic was strong and was nicely offset by the sweetness of the ketchup and creamy tang of the tartar sauce. (Another side note: I find sauces like ketchup to be less sweet in Europe, perhaps due to the use of beet sugar rather than cane or corn syrup as in the US. This might be why it tasted better than I expected.)
Langoš is originally a Hungarian specialty, but in addition to Slovakia it is popular in Austria, Czech Republic, Serbia, Croatia and Romania. Toppings vary by region (sour cream and different cheeses are common) and there are also sweet versions, with cinnamon and sugar (almost like a flat churro).
Travel means leaving my condiment comfort zone, and in the case of langoš, I’m glad I ventured.