I’ve always cooked since I was very small. My expertise has been soups and stews. I’ve developed soft spot for other dishes, but remained faithful to my origins.
One particular favorite soup & stew was Goulash soup. As a carnivore, meat in my plate is always in demand. And hot spicy food became a passion after abandoning my adolescence rebellion against the hot Yemenis’ Schug my father ate with everything (and still does) adequately getting reputation of Eastern/Arabic Jew with his dark skin (from years on the sea) and his passion for that red green boiling hot substance. Refusing to adhere, as was my trademark, I avoided hot food for long. But Goulash was a love affair. Some swear my arms got bigger from no less than 25 turns of that Pepper Mill knob on every Salad I eat. Well, swearing is not polite anyhow.
My probably first consistent acquaintance with this Soup, was following Maccabbi Tel-Aviv basketballs games in Yad Eliyahu, stopping at Mifgash-Ayalon after their victory (at that time, every Maccabbi Tel-Aviv European Cup or otherwise game in Yad Eliyahu was a victory), and taking meaty Goulash Soup before my main (you guessed right: grilled meat skewers as well).
Then I learned to make my own Goulash Soup, keeping honest to the traditional recipe, making sure the Paprika is not burnt, but still adding my own signature (lately in UK it has become Parsnip – god forbid), I was imprisoned in my own vanity – truly believing I have The Goulash within my palms and taste buds.
As I had an Hungarian Ex for while, and had some chances to taste the real thing, even with those almost magical-to-whisper Nokedli Hungarian Soup Noodles companions, with shapes as diverse as one liners aimed at Tourist Girls on Tel Aviv beach, so I had some confidence in my own creation, doing the sin of comparison. And sins are there to be avenged.
So I guess HR all mighty decided to pay back today, in Hungarian Budapest, on the Buda castle side to be accurate, in a seemingly unassuming way. Quite late after a Conference day, on a rainy day, I found myself strolling to a nearby-to-hotel little place, with those pleasant white table cloth, and severe looking middle aged well eating waiters. Can’t go wrong. I had the invisible Paul Auster with me, introduced to me by the above Ex long ago. Very fitting, as like Goulash, he keeps a mysterious taste, but with a good old comfortable exactly-the-same feel. And Goulash Soup it was. In Rome, be a Romanian as they say in Asfur.
Blimey. As a Britton-to-be I must admit this was a Proper Goulash. First it was served in a traditional metal cauldron called Bogracs, Harry Potter style. It had all the needed ingredients, but not more. A hearty, rustic dish. As should be. With those alien lookalike Nokedli friends. Served with fresh from the oven chunky pieces of white bread. When on a rainy cold evening, your forehead seems to get just a glimpse of tiny little sweat spots of hot pleasure you know you have Heaven on Earth.
God bless all mighty.
But the main amazement was a little side pot with a condensed Peppery / Paprika Goulash extract on the side. This is innovation at the highest scale. After years of trickery methods and trials and errors, between my beloved spouse and myself how to make food that will be spicy for me, but still blend for her, and failing to find resolution – I found god in this little place: I could just add as much of this extract, meld it to the soup (and after all it was of similar disposition so blended easly) without distorting the Soup, and be able to control the Spice I like in my Girls. Genious.
We have tried all sorts before. Big pan / small pan sauce, where the main dish is basked in the big pot, and at the end spices are added to a small portion in the little pan. Works OK, but demands good guessing of quantities each of us would actually want to have. Not as easy as one would reckon, when you have a Morag as your spouse. Marking with a line of garnish (e.g. some peppers, or otherwise) when we share an Oven dish, Pizza, Pie, or toasts – making sure the marks are not lost in translation, making me feel I’m eating foodless food, and making Morag natural eye color turn to sun-setting colors of red / orange and purple, if we make a mistake and eat the wrong portions.
For that reason, I’m out. Sorry Dragons, I meant I’ve finished my Soup to its atomic bits and bobs. And as my young Tom emits after getting her M’n’M sweet post a successful potty training: Another one tomorrow.
I can only add the aftermath picture. Mainly because I was too starving to take a picture at the beginning, but also to avoid any drooling from you on the PC screens in front of you. Small consideration on my part.