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NYFS Newsletter 1998-vol19-no3-1
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Spring/Summer 1999 Newsletter

Hungarian Goulash
Eniko Farkas

How we cook and what we like are very closely related to family history and traditions. Food traditions are things that we inherit and carry on with vehemence. Sometimes nationality and religion disappear but not the upkeep of family food traditions. I found this out when I was collecting information from second and third generation Hungarian immigrants to the Ithaca area. Even if the language was long forgotten and there were no other ties to Hungary, the food traditions and recipes lived on. Hungarians very jealously guard their recipes, and if a Hungarian trusts you with her secret recipe, you can trust her with your life. Giving your favorite recipe away is the ultimate bonding experience between women; it makes friends for life. Even in the best cookbooks ingredients are left out so nobody will be able to re-create exactly the art of a famous chef. I guess in this regard I am the exception because everything I know is here.

The Hungarian word gulyás means cattlemen in English. This delicious, thick, spicy soup was their main food. The cattle herdsmen cooked this soup/stew over an open fire in a kettle while tending to the herd in the Great Lowlands of Hungary. Gulyás soup has been around for a long time. Some authorities think the Hungarians brought the tradition with them from Asia. The gulyás soup got its final form in the early nineteenth century when the use of paprika as a spice was incorporated into mainstream Hungarian cooking.

Except for politics, there are few subjects that can as easily incite strong feelings in Hungarians as the subject of the proper kinds of spices and vegetables that go into the goulash. Friendships can end over whether the carrots are sliced round or lengthwise. Goulash is a good base for a wine or beer drinking party and can be a meal in itself. Serve it steaming hot with a good rye bread. Use a six-quart pot for making the soup. By the way, substitute macaroni for csipetke only in an emergency. If this recipe doesn’t look like anything you’ve thought to be "Hungarian Goulash" do not despair. Try to make it anyway; you might get a pleasant surprise.


2 lbs. lean beef meat, cubed into 1 in. pieces
2 marrow bones
1 (8 oz.) plate beef (back ribs)
3 T. lard
1/2 t. caraway seed
2 large onion, cubed
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 T. sweet Hungarian paprika
1 t. hot Hungarian paprika
2 t. salt
1/2 t. marjoram leaves
1/4 t. black pepper
8 c. water or as needed
1 bay leaf
1 tomato, quartered

1 frying green pepper, quartered
4 carrots sliced into 1 1/2 in. pieces, then quartered
2 parsnips, sliced into 1 1/2 in. pieces, then quartered
2 stalks of celery, sliced
5 sprigs of parsley
2 lbs. red potatoes, cubed.

Prepare csipetke: Soften butter, then mix I egg. Add salt. Add flour. Work up ingredients to form a soft dough. Roll out dough as thin as possible. Punch off small pieces and throw into boiling soup. Dumplings are done when they rise to the surface of the gulyás and are soft in the middle.

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From Hungarian Cuisine and Personal Memories by Eniko Farkas. The book, which contains the recipe printed here is available for $22 in at our online store.

Except for politics, there are few subjects that can as easily incite strong feelings in Hungarians as the subject of the proper kinds of spices and vegetables that go into the goulash.
—Eniko Farkas

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