It's as red as blood and, for the traditional Hungarian chef, no less essential for a healthy life.
But humble paprika - national spice and integral to all the most treasured Hungarian dishes - has been having a rough time.
Hungarian paprika production has slumped as buyers across the world have turned to cheaper supplies from Spain, China and Latin America.
And two years of unpredictable weather in Hungary may mean this year's crop of capsicum annuum peppers - the raw ingredient of paprika - is the poorest in 50 years.
Horror of horrors, Hungary may even resort to importing the crop.
To understand Hungarians, you need to know a little bit about their favorite ingredient.
And if all else fails, this paprika primer will make for good talking points if you're stuck in a Budapest goulash restaurant on a rainy afternoon.