June 2018 – Hungarian Ethnic Night

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About a year ago, I led an ethnic night on the topic of Jewish cooking. I did a follow up presentation for the June Weston A. Price Pasadena potluck on Hungarian cuisine. While I’m both culturally Jewish and Hungarian, leading the two nights couldn’t have been more different.

As with many Jewish people I know, the Jewish culture is often stronger than the culture from where your ancestors came from. I had grown up eating all kinds of traditionally Jewish food, but I didn’t know much about Hungarian food. While preparing for my presentation, I learned a great deal about the diet from the country where the Zober namesake emigrated from.

One Hungarian dish which I was familiar with was paprikash. This was the dish I brought to share. I felt that paprikash fits well with the Weston A. Price Foundation guidelines. Hungarian food, in general, is heavy in diary, cheese, and meats. Paprikash is made with chicken thighs, a fattier part of the chicken. It’s important that all muscle meats, chicken thighs included, are cooked in healthy saturated fats. For paprikash, the thighs are first sautéed in butter, then simmered in bone broth, and sour cream is finally added to the broth.

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As I was researching Hungarian cuisine, I learned that many other of its traditional foods use healthy fats. Paprikash is often served with tarhonya, which is an egg noodle. In order to be well digested, grains must be properly prepared. Tarhonya contains wheat mixed with eggs, milk and butter. They’re then fried in lard or more butter before boiling.

There were many other nutrient dense Hungarian foods that I was pleased to hear about.  Another popular dish is goulash. This contains a shank or shoulder which gets converted to gelatin during the cooking process. Cheeses are also popular with such types as quark, cream cheese, and picante. And Hungarian cuisine often calls for fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut, pickles, and soured peppers.

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Those in attendance enjoyed learning about my Hungarian roots, finding out what the traditional Hungarian foods are, and tasting my paprikash dish. As our meetings are potluck, people are always encouraged to bring their dishes which fit with the ethnic night. Co-leader Karen Voelkening-Behegan brought a cucumber salad and gluten free poppy seed cookies to go along with my paprikash.

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