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View From Your Table

Budapest, Hungary

Chicken paprikash on spaetzle, with sour cream. This was dinner tonight at the family home of Anna, this blog’s Budapest bureau chief. Believe me, I was never so happy for the merciful Orthodox pastoral teaching that it’s a greater sin to refuse hospitality than to break the fast. This food was so simple, but so, so perfect — my favorite kind of cooking. Anna sent me home with a Hungarian cookbook for Julie, and with some fresh paprika from Mama. After Lent, I’m going to try to recreate this at home.

And look, dessert: palacsinta, moist pancakes filled with cream cheese (foreground) and apricot preserves (background). That’s Mama, the miracle-working cook, in the rear:

What a great town Budapest is! I’ll have more to say in another post — specifically about the wonderful people I’ve met here, and the conversations we’ve had — though I’ll probably have to write it on the train tomorrow to Prague.

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16 Comments (Open | Close)

16 Comments To "View From Your Table"

#1 Comment By Jim Wagner On March 10, 2018 @ 5:21 pm

We spent a week in Budapest in the summer of’15. Delightful! Like Rod we also visited the House of Terror. Is is remarkable how similar these facilities were to those in Rostock and Vilnius – and I suppose all over the old eastern block. Very sobering.

#2 Comment By Smithborough On March 10, 2018 @ 5:52 pm

Is BenOp coming out in Hungarian soon?

[NFR: I have no Hungarian publisher, but several people who heard me speak said that they want to help me find one. It is now in French, Czech, and Slovak, and will later this year come out in German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Korean. — RD]

#3 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 10, 2018 @ 7:09 pm

I want the apricot ones.

#4 Comment By Leslie Fain On March 10, 2018 @ 8:41 pm

That looks delicious! Is there an Amazon link to the cookbook you can post?

#5 Comment By Salamander On March 10, 2018 @ 9:16 pm

My mother was of Hungarian descent. I make chicken paprikas about once a week – it is one of our family’s favorite foods. If I’m feeling lazy I serve it with noodles or potatoes; but it goes best with homemade spaetzle.

#6 Comment By charles cosimano On March 10, 2018 @ 11:02 pm

I’m laughing so hard I may break something. You found the fasting loophole. You just get people to invite you over for dinner all through Lent.

[NFR: This must surely be a case of religious syncretism (Orthodoxy + Cosimanian Orthodox). — RD]

#7 Comment By Elijah On March 11, 2018 @ 8:54 am

Paprikas is one of our family favorites as well – I still have several of my grandmother’s Hungarian-church-published cookbooks if you want to compare some recipes!

We happen to like a vinegary cucumber salad with ours. 🙂

#8 Comment By midtown On March 11, 2018 @ 10:48 am

Looks delicious! And of course, Hungarian paprika is the best.

#9 Comment By charles cosimano On March 11, 2018 @ 12:01 pm

At least they didn’t invite you to a ruined castle and, having sat you down, say, “This is the wine of my country. I hope you enjoy it.”

That’s when you know you’re in trouble.

#10 Comment By mwing On March 11, 2018 @ 1:29 pm

As a broke college student long ago I used to eat at the Polish/Eastern European places in NYC like Veselka, the Kiev, etc. because they were super cheap. It was all about the soft cheese and and sour cream! Cheese blintzes. Pierogis with sides of sour cream (and applesauce and fried onions, because, of course, everything needs to come with sour cream, applesauce and fried onions). Blops of sour cream in the soup.
It was great.
Years later I became lactose-intolerant. Maybe I should blame the cook at Veselka.

[NFR: Kiev! My gosh, I haven’t thought about that joint in 20 years or so. I *loved* their borscht and pierogis. You could eat there right next to sleazy Russian mafiosi, and damn, was it good. — RD]

#11 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 11, 2018 @ 1:44 pm

Believe me, I was never so happy for the merciful Orthodox pastoral teaching that it’s a greater sin to refuse hospitality than to break the fast.

It restores my faith in the future of humanity when I see a deeply pious faith being sensible about the purpose of spiritual discipline.

#12 Comment By Anne On March 11, 2018 @ 4:45 pm

Speaking of loopholes, for Catholics, Sundays aren’t included in the Lenten fast, so any papist currently craving chicken and/or pancake/crepes is free to indulge.;-)

#13 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On March 12, 2018 @ 12:27 pm

I’m laughing so hard I may break something. You found the fasting loophole. You just get people to invite you over for dinner all through Lent.

Rod will hate to hear this, but if I’m having company I always ask “what would you like me to cook?”, so if he eats at my place he will have no excuse 🙂

#14 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On March 12, 2018 @ 12:29 pm

Looks delicious! And of course, Hungarian paprika is the best.

Amusingly enough, paprika is of course a New World spice. Five hundred years ago Hungarians weren’t using paprika any more than Poles were using potatoes, Russians were using sunflower oil, Indian cuisines were using chilies, or Italians were using tomatoes.

#15 Comment By Steve Willis On March 12, 2018 @ 3:56 pm

Was this Eat and Meet? We were in Budapest last year and unfortunately Anna was away when we were there. She did write back to give us recommendations for restaurants, which all turned out to be great. Budapest is a wonderful place to visit.

#16 Comment By AnnaH On March 16, 2018 @ 5:10 am

Leslie Fain:
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No vegetable stews in it though, which are a staple of Hungarian cooking (remnant of the Austro-Hungarian Empire I think).