7 June 2003 - Prague
Good gyros, bad burgers

It's not as easy as you might think to find cheap food in Budapest and Prague, especially if you want to avoid the American fast food outlets. You first need to step outside the normal tourist areas, and then decide what it is that's worth eating.

Despite me telling my mum of university kebab horror stories, I've been having my fair share of them lately. Well, they're called gyros in Hungary but they're basically the same thing - sliced grilled meat in a pitta bread with sauces and vegtables.

I have to say that they do 'em well in Budapest. It's yummy and filling and all for only HFL350 (about RM4). And they dollop in all the yoghurt you want.

It's much nicer than the University kebab vans. It probably has something to do with the fact that the meat looks like real meat and not reconstituted by-by-products (the stuff they don't even throw into sausages). Yummy stuff.

On the other hand, I never thought anything could compare with the lows of University roadside van food, until I had a burger in Prague. I mean, I say bad things about Ramlyburgers back home, but my Czech burger recalibrated the scale.

They're very cheap (about CKr20 ~ RM2) and for good reason. Let's begin with how it looks. What you see when you order a burger is some wrapping paper, some bun, some green leafy stuff and something hidden behind all that. It looks like something trying to disguise itself as meat behind lettuce and bread. It's embarassed that it's even called a burger, and has tried to disappear by drowning itself with tomato sauce.

It gets better. Go ahead, take a bite. You'll taste the bun, the lettuce, the tomato sauce and... something. It has a texture not unlike cardboard that has been left soaking wet for a few days. It really needs to be tasted to be believed.

And if you dare look at what you've bitten into... well, it was the stingiest looking chicken burger I've ever seen. No more than a single layer of mince, a thin white line which just about separated it from being called a lettuce sandwich. And you pay for this stuff.

Well, to be fair, I was a little fuller after that, although it probably had to do with me downing whole litre of water just to wash away the memory.

Maybe I shouldn't judge a whole country's burger industry by just one sample. Perhaps I should try another one tomorrow - after all, they're cheap enough. Wish me luck, guys.


posted on Monday, June 09, 2003 - permalink
Comments: Post a Comment