Sunday, April 03, 2005

Fat = Flavor

I figure there is enough commentary on the Pope out there, but not so much commentary on lard. That's where I come in. See the gleeful girl holding the brick o' lard with a veritable bricked wall of lard behind her? That's me. Zsolti and I went shopping yesterday to buy everything to make a beautiful goulash. And one of the essential ingredients is sértészsír, or pig fat. As my old sculpture professor used to say, "Fat = Flavor," and the Hungarians would heartily concur. The color and flavor of Hungary's national spice, paprika, is released into hot fat. If you see people sprinkling paprika on an already cooked dish, this is really just giving the dish a visual garnish, and not imparting the real flavor of the paprika.

I recently found a new cukrászda that I love in the XIIIth district (on the Pest side, north of Szent István Körút). Zsolti says that the Vanillin Cukrászda is a chain, but that doesn't bother me at all, and nor does its non-traditional cukrászda decor-- I'm in it for the cakes and the cookies that I take home with me, the way that Gollum might retreat into a cave with "the Precious." Their Sacher is fresh and fab, and they have a diós baklava (a nutty baklava) that kicks ass. It's also a good place to go if you don't feel like taking pictures for German tourists posing with their dobos tortas*-- the Vanillin in the XIIIth district has an almost exclusively Hungarian patronage. There is a constant stream of pogásca mouth-stuffing, ice cream cone-toting, cake-hording folks coming out of the Vanillin doors. (I'm in the latter category).

*I seriously like taking pictures for tourists, though. And the German ones are so tickled when I count to three in my primitive German. It's an easy way to do something nice for people, and even nicer if you don't act put out by it-- and ham it up a bit for them.


At 10:10 PM, Blogger svm said...

ok but what are dobos tortas?

At 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please please share your goulash recipe with us (or email it to me at planethalder [[at]] gmail [[dot]] com


At 11:25 AM, Blogger Irma Vep said...

SVM: Jozsef C. Dobos was a famous Hungarian pastry chef. Dobos torta is a cake made of six thin cakes, filled with chocolate buttercream, and then coated with a crispy, shiny caramel glaze on top. When Dobos created it at the end of the 19th century, buttercream was a new thing. It was a sweet sensation across Europe, and Dobos sent cakes out in wooden boxes that he designed himself. My Swiss friend says it's too sweet, and Zsolti doesn't like the caramel layer on top, and it's not my personal fav.

Planethalder: You are darling: why you think I have some great gulyas recipe I do not know. I am a mediocre/uninspired cook myself who is simply very curious about food. Here is what I will do: I will get Zsolti's father's recipe, and I will post or e-mail it to you.

At 11:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you!

At 4:54 AM, Blogger RichardKS said...

I think you are right about the relative merits of the Pope Vs lard. After all, lard has never had to try and explain the antisemitism of its predecessors, or preached that we should not wear condoms. Now, mentioning lard and condoms in the same sentence is something I have been attempting for some time, so please join me in a moment of celebration.

At 12:05 PM, Blogger Irma Vep said...

YEAH!!!! Lard and condoms together in the same sentence! You are a semantic pioneer Hellman!

At 9:43 PM, Blogger Vándorló said...

I was just reading JudyJudy's blog and she mentioned töpörtő and I thought of you - well your blog on the subject.
I think you'll be amazed at the "technology" that goes into a true appreciation of fat. If you follow the link on töpörtős, you'll find numerous ways to cook fat with suggestions for both hot and cold recipes - yum!


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