A Hungarian gift

The word for paprika comes from the Hungarian paparka. A variation from Bulgarian piperka which in turn came from Latin piper, for ‘pepper’. In the USA paprika simply means any nonpungent red chili.

Today Hungary produces both pungent and sweet paprika. Originally all Hungarian paprika was aromatic and quite hot.

The hybrid that most use in today’s kitchens is a cross of the sweet and the pungent peppers to come up with the benign type that is neither hot nor sweet. It is usually used as a garnish, mainly to sprinkle on top of deviled eggs or potato salad to give it the festive look.

In my opinion any paprika that is worthy of its history of exquisite taste varies with its strength from hot to pleasantly mild. Smoked paprika has a pronounced flavor that starts with a wonderfully rich aroma when toasted with other aromatics (onions, garlic, a little lard, oil or pan drippings).  Wonderful in goulash, paprikash, and chili recipes.

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