I used to think paprika was like a chilli powder or cayenne that had lost its flavour and fragrance. It looked the same, but compared with other, more fiery spices, paprika was extremely mild, so I used it primarily to give dishes an attractive red colour rather than to add flavour. Then a friend brought me some expensive paprika from Hungary and I realised how different it was from the supermarket varieties. It still wasn't fiery - it contains low levels of capsaicin (the component that makes some chillies hotter than others) - but it was sweet, smoky, slightly spicy and aromatic. Although paprika is not native to Eastern Europe, it has long been associated with Hungarian cooking - it's used in goulash (a soup or stew with meat and vegetables) and chicken or veal paprikash, and gives a slight 'kick' to roasted potatoes and buttered noodles. In Hungary, spice shops sell paprika with many different flavours and heat levels. If you find a spice shop that sells its products 'loose', ask to smell the paprika before buying - if it's fragrant, it should still be full of flavour. As with any ground spice, paprika loses its flavour quickly, so buy it in small quantities and store in an airtight jar, preferably in the freezer. Paprika is wonderful with potato dishes: sprinkle it on hash browns, latkes, potato salads and chips. For potato croquettes, mash some boiled potatoes, add chopped meat or seafood (this is a good way to use leftovers), spring onions and enough egg to bind, then mix with salt, pepper and paprika. Shape into small balls and chill for a couple hours, then fry in hot (about 200 degrees Celsius) oil until brown. Serve hot. I use paprika whenever I make fried chicken. Mix plenty of the spice with fine salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle the mixture over chicken pieces then rub it in with your fingers. Dredge the chicken in plain flour, dip it in beaten egg then in bread or cracker crumbs. Fry at 190 degrees Celsius until cooked, then drain on paper towels. If you want to give your holiday turkey some colour, rub paprika, salt and pepper into the skin and cavity of the bird and add some paprika to the melted butter used to baste it. When using paprika in sautes and stews, toast it slightly by sprinkling over the onions and other aromatics before adding the liquid - this brings out the flavour and fragrance. Take care not to toast it too long because paprika has a relatively high sugar content, which makes it burn easily.