Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter Ham and Easter Customs in Hungary

In Hungary there are many different traditions around Easter country by country. I like all of them in spite of Easter is always confused me, because it's originally a Christian religious holiday and we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. And as I had already written it I originates from a half Jewish family and in my childhood the Easter was that the Christian Holiday, which we never really used to celebrate. So Easter is a little bit complicated to me.

Hungarian home-made ham.
Beáta's photo is the first what I've invited from the new thread of the Hungary starts here pool (on flickr site). Read her comment:

"The Easter approaches. The ham is one of the characteristic foods of the Easter. We do a home-made ham in all years. A friend of ours does it punctual it he together with a ham. Days puts salt on it and turns the meats. He smokes it then. We like this better what it is possible to receive in the shop. Our relatives and our friends get him from him always."

Well, Easter in Hungary is observed in accordance with the rituals of the Eastern Orthodox Church. On Good Friday afternoon religious people go to the church to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. On Holy Saturday the worshipers congregate in the church for midnight resurrection ceremonies. After the church service people carry a statue of Christ and religious banners in a procession through the parish, singing appropriate hymns.

The Hungarians call Lent the Great Fast (nagyböjt). Since meat is forbidden during Lent, the day before Ash Wednesday is called húshagyó kedd, meaning meat abandoning Tuesday. On Holy Saturday or Nagyszombat, people take food baskets filled with kalács (milkloaf), red eggs and salt to the church to be blessed by the clergy. The blessed food is eaten after the resurrection ceremonies. So Saturday evening marks the end of the Lent and people have traditional dishes: smoked ham with pickled horseradish, hardboiled eggs and fresh white bread or milk-loaf.

On Easter Sunday morning the Easter bunny brings presents for the children. Easter bunny hide his (or her?) present in the garden and the children have to find them :)

Easter Bunny has arrived (2007)
Photo: Nóra

I guess this isn't a religious tradition, but this part of Easter which my children like the best :)

Pork, poultry, lamb and rabbit dominate the traditional Easter Sunday lunch with various garnishing, but many housewives cook stuffed cabbage and bake beigli (pastry rolls with walnut or poppy seed stuffing) not just for Christmas but for Easter too.

Easter Monday is the day of the "Locsolkodás". It meant in olden days the girls would had been taken outside and the men threw buckets of water on them or even, if a stream was close by, simply threw the girls into the water. This goes back to ancient fertility and cleansing rituals and the custom is still alive, although, nowadays it is in a mild form: the boys and men sprinkle the girls with perfume and in return the girls give them chocolate or painted eggs, what we call hímestojás in Hungarian.

happy Easter
Photo: gdraskoy

Easter eggs symbolize the birth of a new life, the fertility and the coming spring. Red is the most popular color, because it recalls the blood of Jesus Christ. In Hungary different games and superstitions are also linked to the Easter eggs, regarding luck and love for the rest of the year.

You can also find animals amongst the Easter symbols. The oldest of these is the Easter Lamb, which is originally related to the Bible, where the Jews were sacrificing a lamb to avoid the wrath of God, and Jesus is our lamb who had been sacrificed for us.

The explanation of the Easter bunny is much more difficult, but it probably came from German myths and was related to fertility. By the end of the last century, the Easter bunny had become very popular.

The Easter chocolate figures are also essential part of Easter Holiday. Hence Easter is a time (beside the day of Santa Claus) when the much sweet eating is legal for the children :)

Húsvéti csoki / Easter chocolate
Photo: Nóra

I wish you Happy Easter!


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hungarian layered potato

My this week's post on the Hungary starts here blog:
rakott krumpli
The Hungarian layered (plated) potato is my "Today's recommendation", it's called "rakott krumpli" in Hungarian. I know that with this recommendation I'm breaking the rules of Fast, but I've promised in my previous post :) For those of you who are keeping to the Fast or if you are vegetarians, you may wish to prepare this dish based on my recipe without meat. But to be honest the "rakott krumpli" tasts the best and is only good with the Hungarian sausage, as in my photos :)

Rakott krumpli

"Rakott krumpli" is a typical Hungarian home-made main dish, hence you can never find it the menus of the elegant Hungarian restaurants. You can see this view only within the kitchens of Hungarian families or maybe in the "less-expensive" Hungarian self-service eating outlets.

I'm a big fan of all of the Hungarian food, which consists of flavors that are determined by the sausage and I constantly feel that I'm lucky, because here in Hungary, we have lots of different types of national food which are prepared using sausages :)

By the way I guess Hungary is deservedly famous for the sausages. I'm sure that you have already heard about both of the Hungarian gyulai and csabai sausages and you have already seen the fired (grilled) sausage, for example in winter in the Christmas Fair on Vörösmarty Square or in summer at Lake Balaton. There are many street vendors, where you can buy Hungarian fried fish and fried sausage too. If you travel to Hungary I'm recommending to you TRY IT!

Well, a couple of weeks ago I was on some official business at the Travel Exhibition. I have to participate in this event every year and the gastronomic part, which I always enjoy the most. My personal favorite was the stand, called Békéscsaba stand, where even the fence is made of sausages.

"Even the fence is made of sausages there"

"Even the fence is made of sausages there" is a Hungarian proverb and originally it means that: there everyone is rich in everything. Tha fact is Békéscsaba is really reach in sausage :)))

Now shall, I write down the ingredients of my recipe? Oh, this is the point which makes me confuse. I'm always having trouble when I write down the ingredients' quantities as I've already written it before.

Well in any case, I still hope you will enjoy this recipe:

1. Cook 1 kilo (or more) potatoes in their jackets in salty water until tender and ask your husband to peel and slice them :)

2. Hard-boil 5 (or less or more) eggs and when cool enough to handle then ask your children to peel and slice them :)

3. Slice a bigger (or in smaller slices, whichever you prefer) the Hungarian sausage.

4. Put the ingredients a greased pan or a deep casserole. Start with a layer of potatoes, salt the layer and sprinkle with bits of butter or little oil. (I prefer oil.) Add a few pieces of sausage and slices of eggs, then cover with a layer of potatoes. Add salt and oil. Repeat the eggs and sausage layer and cover with potatoes.

5. Spread 2-3 deciliter sour cream and scatter with grained cheese and a little oil. Bake in a medium heat oven for 35-40 minutes.

6. Serve with beet-root or any other pickles!

rakott krumpli

7. And finally wash your child's face and hands! :)

céklás Tama :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hungarian Culinary

Do you have a good photo about a typical Hungarian food or beverage? Do not hesitate to play with us and add them to the Hungarian Culinary thread on flickr. If you feel like then award the best ones!

This photo deserves my Hungary starts here - HUNGARIAN FOOD AWARD
Fish soup

The best and the most popular photos of the thread will be featured on the Hungary starts here blog site.

You may read the rules here.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sponge cake with sour cherry

Before baking:
before baking

After baking:
meggyes piskóta

It called "meggyes piskóta" in Hungarian. It's a (sponge) cake filled with sour cherry. It is a very simple, but very popular cake in Hungary.

I always miss the fresh cherry and sour cherry in winter, but luckily in my family the grandmothers usually bottle fruits for winter. So I have possibility to fill my cake with their delicious bottled fruits :)


cseresznye, cherry

My sponge cake recipe you may read here.