Saturday, January 30, 2016

Books & Bakes Re-Cap

Chilled Sour Cherry Soup

Last night a group met at my house to discuss Magda Szabo's novel The Door and eat Hungarian food prepared by my old friend Erika. I think we all agreed that the book was wonderful and the meal outstanding. The novel is about the complicated relationship between a peasant woman and an intellectual writer, taking place in the sixties in communist Hungary. Erika, a native Hungarian, informed us of the novel's distinct "Hungarian-ness," but each of us found something to relate to whether it was female friendship, the role of caretaker and receiver, the complexities of mother/daughter relationships and even that of writing and material. The book was written in the 1980s and only recently translated into English, but The New York Times included it on their list of the Ten Best Books of 2015. It's a short book, but I think most of us at Books & Bakes would recommend it.

Now, the menu. Good Lord, ya'll. Not only is Erika a beautiful writer, a Caretaker Extraordinaire of a beautiful little girl with severe disabilities, but damn. She can also cook. I milled around the kitchen a bit before acquiescing entirely to her skill and concentration preparing authentic Hungarian dishes. I won't divulge that the night before I had attempted to make a traditional Hungarian pastry that I had to throw in the garbage and left me in tears. I thought I'd lost my touch, but Erika assured me that the recipe I was using was at fault. Perhaps that's true, but I think that I have too many proverbial frying pans on the fire and have just lost my mind. I guess I just divulged that.

Here's the menu:

Mulled Wine forralt bor
Cheese Biscuits Pogacsa

Chilled Sour Cherry Soup Meggyleves
Meat-filled Crepes Hortobagyi husos palacsinta
Mushroom-filled Crepes
Chicken Paprikash Paprikas csirke
Mushroom Paprikash Gombaporkolt
Hungarian Cucumber Salad Uborkasalata
Dumplings Galuska
Hungarian Pickles

Assorted Traditional Hungarian Pastries


  1. Oh heavenly food lust. Sounds wonderful in every way. xo

  2. I had a wonderful time. I loved the book. The food was magnificent. The group was fun. I enjoyed our talk about the Olympics and the musicals too! Elizabeth, you are always such a wonderful hostess. Thank you. And if Erika doesn't read here thank her again for the cooking and the history of Hungary.

  3. Damn! Can't we use drones to deliver tasting plates? I think the last failure I threw
    in the compost was at Thanksgiving, attempting a gluten-free persimmon tart that
    was truly inedible. I'm not surprised Erika's a good cook!

  4. I did try Hungarian food once. I used to work with a Hungarian woman who married a Cuban, had children with him and decided to stay in Cuba. In 90s Havana she never stopped complaining because by the Hungary had changed and was developing faster than Cuba. I quite liked the food she made. I'll have to look up that title online. Thanks for the heads-up! :-)

    Greetings from London.

  5. I am lusting. You should have just sent that pastry to me instead of throwing it out. I would gladly have taken it off your hands.

  6. The only Hungarian food I know is goulash, which may not even really be Hungarian...? Anyway, this post has definitely broadened my culinary horizons (as well as my literary ones)!

  7. Every time I click on your blog and see that sour cherry soup I literally salivate. It looks 100% swoony.

  8. I love chicken paprika. Used to make it and then forgot about it. May have to dig up my recipes. The whole meal sounds good, except chilled soup. Can't wrap my head around chilled soup.

    Glad you had a great weekend. Don't forget to breathe though:)

    I had a lovely four days with Rachel in Vancouver. It pissed down rain but we had a wonderful visit; and I got to meet her new boyfriend. I also got my wedding dress!

  9. I am so intrigued by this chilled cherry soup. And by the literature too, of course. But that soup . . .



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