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Eat, Write, Love

What do we usually think of when we hear the words ’Hungarian cuisine’? Hot golden soups, spicy stews, and paprika galore. But it wasn’t always like that. There’s a few literary gentlemen who had made a lasting impression on the gastronomy of the region – or, at least on the image we have of the culinary world of 19th century Hungary. Let’s see who these penmen were!

Mór Jókai was the most notable figure of Hungarian Romanticism: a novelist, a member of the Parliament and a number of academic societies, he is also famous for being the namesake of the rich and delicious Jókai bean soup, the author’s favourite dish, prepared by his actress wife, Róza Laborfalvi. Besides the usual ingredients of a bean soup, it consists of smoked pork knuckle, smoked sausage, pointed peppers, grounded red pepper and sour cream.

Kálmán Miszkáth is the Hungarian archetype for the debonair writer-journalist, whose scribble about the breakfast of the Minister of Finance, his pieces on various eateries and his portrayal of the lavish Parliament feasts paint a vivid picture of the gastronomical culture of the time, full of joie de vivre and Hungarian savours. Mikszáth once named stuffed cabbage as the king of foods, while in his article,’The Hungarian cuisine’, the author showcased a number of Hungarian dishes dear to his heart (and stomach).

There are three things we can be thankful for to the gourmet-genius that is Gyula Krúdy: first, for the wandering character of Sindbad, a gluttonous womanizer from memories of the past; second, for chronicling the atmosphere and general morale of turn-of-the-century Budapest, dressed in a sepia robe of melancholy and intimate nostalgia; and third, for his talent in making his readers hungrier than a wolf and thirstier than a camel in just a half sentence. Reading Krúdy’s culinary lines is tantamount to the finest of gastronomic experiences.

Elek Magyar is the odd-one-out in our little compilation, since he’s the only one of the bunch who wasn’t a novelist with a stomach for delicious dishes, but a real culinary writer, the 20th century equivalent of a gastroblogger. Under the pseudonym „Ínyesmester”, Magyar penned an immense amount of recipes in the Pesti Napló newspaper: his stories, his unmistakably luscious style, his sweeping contemplations about beer and wine are still as appetizing as they were 80 years ago. via funzine.hu

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