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Podcast host Adam Carolla wants Hungarian food for his last meal

I spent many teenage nights laying on my bedroom carpet, listening to Adam Carolla and Dr Drew dispense relationship and sex advice on the syndicated radio show Loveline. Now, decades later, I found myself on the phone with Adam Carolla while he walked around his southern Californian neighborhood.

“I’m taking my dog for a walk in this neighborhood and two times women have pulled over and offered the dog water,” Carolla laughed. “Not me! The dog! That’s how women are wired. He’s a 100 pound black Lab so I think he always looks thirsty.”

Carolla, whose podcast The Adam Carolla Show has been downloaded more than any other podcast and holds a Guinness World Record, shared what he’d eat for his last meal.

“My grandfather is the only one who ever cooked when I was younger. He was Hungarian and he made great Hungarian food. I know every night you’ve got that choice between pizza or Chinese or Mexican food or steak house. Do yourself a favor and go find some goulash and chicken paprikash. Get some of that stuff that sticks to your ribs every once in a while. I don’t know why people never do that. It’s always sushi or Chinese or pizza, but what about sauerkraut, people?”

Despite having a Romanian born father who spoke fluent Hungarian, I have never had Hungarian goulash. But in middle and high school, my best friend Lauren’s family made a dish that they called goulash. A dish I loved because it was something my food snob parents refused to replicate for me at home. I haven’t seen Lauren in 12 years, but we got back in touch to discuss the recipe.

“It’s a very simple dish, kind of a poor man’s meal,” she said. “It’s shell noodles, [browned] ground beef, tomato soup and that’s about it! Mix it all up together, you eat it and it’s delicioso. I think the whole idea of goulash is finding scraps and meat that is leftover, things that are leftover, and kind of combining it all together, is that right?”

It’s right in the American sense. We get the real story on Hungarian goulash from Budapest based food writer, Carolyn Bánfalvi.

“In Hungary, goulash is really only one thing,” Bánfalvi said. “I know in America it has the connotation of being whatever you have in the refrigerator, thrown together and you make a casserole out of it. But here in Hungary, goulash is always a soup, not a stew, and it’s a very simple thing to make. First you saute onions in a little bacon fat, you would add some beef cubes, add a little paprika, then you would add some water. Before it’s ready you would add cubes of potatoes, salt and pepper and really nothing else. It’s usually served with a little pinched pasta called csipetke, which you cook directly in the soup. It’s something that’s been made in Hungary, basically, since the 9th century.”

Carolla wonders why more people don’t eat Hungarian food when they dine out. It’s probably because there are so few Hungarian restaurants in the US. The Hungarian culture website Magyar Living only found 40 in the entire country. In Washington we have one restaurant, Lynnwood’s Budapest Bistro.

To hear more from Adam Carolla and to learn the strange, but endearing method in which Lauren’s dad cooks hot dogs, listen to the full episode of Your Last Meal on iTunes or text ADAM to 98973 and we’ll text you the episode.

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