Thursday, 26 January 2017

Herbs, Spices and Herbalists - Paprika: Part 6 ...




Patrick Leigh Fermor’s second book of his trilogy: 

“A Time of Gifts”, 
“Between the Woods and Water”, and 
“The Broken Road” 

Between the Woods and
Water - by Patrick
Leigh Fermor
... reminded me about Paprika … bringing back those memories of Hungarian goulashes often served or created in the 1960s …



… but the descriptive passages Fermor uses, as he traverses and stays in the Great Plain of Hungary, brought the rich haze of summer to mind:




Hungarian Peppers air drying


The summer solstice was past, peonies and lilac had both vanished, cuckoos had changed their tune and were making ready to fly.  Roast corn-cobs came and trout from the mountains; cherries, then strawberries, apricots and peaches, and, finally, wonderful melons and raspberries.  

The scarlet blaze of paprika …”


Szeged is just below the "Y" of Hungary;
Kalocsa (not shown) is about where the
"A" of Hungary appears.


Szeged and Kalocsa are two of the main towns in the southern part of the Great Plain ... while the Paprika Museum in Kalocsa records Capsicum’s history …




… I have to say I thought Paprika originally came from Hungary … but no – originating in south - middle America, it is thought the Spanish Conquistadores brought the plant over… capsicum acclimatised very quickly and was first used as a decorative plant.



The Carpathian Mountains surround
the Great Plain of Slovakia, Hungary, Romania
and Ukraine: the Danube and its main
tributaries run through it ... 



Similarly to my post on Marzipan – the trading routes played their part in its dispersal across Europe, along the Mediterranean, through Africa, Persia and north into the Great Plains of Hungary via the Danube River with the Turkish expansionists … which led us to those Great Plains which Fermor describes so evocatively. 







Capsicum a member of the Nightshade family … has many varieties in hues of gold, vivid greens, amber, vermillion or chili red … the early herbalists realised the medicinal values … a fine natural body purifier and internal disinfectant … while a variety of other remedies are being researched.



Peppers are hugely nutritious … they have more Vitamin C than an orange, and have relatively high amounts of Vitamins B6 and A.  These contain 94% water, but once dried they have different nutritional values.


Dried Paprika


Pungency varies – the Mexican - American types tend to be spicier: the chili cayenne types - while the Hungarian/Spanish Paprika is made from the milder, pointed-shape paprika fruit.





Hungarian sausages and hams

Hungarian and Spanish peppers are dried and ground, or used as vegetables or in salads … added to stews, sauces and now ubiquitously added to all manner of produce – particularly sausages (Spanish Chorizo … pork, sweet paprika and garlic, then cured).







Hungarian Veal Paprika with Nokedli
from Crumbs and Tales

Hungarian paprika veal … I’m sure I made this back then!  Delicious … fillets of veal, dipped in seasoned flour, lightly fried – remove meat and keep hot.  Mix paprika to taste with some soured cream and add to pan, stir in gently … and replace the meat.  Simmer gently and serve with new potatoes, nokedli (dumplings) or rice, green vegetables etc …




Hungarian Goulash
Szegedin Goulash

Hungarian goulash – where paprika is an essential ingredient – uses cubed beef, onions, tomatoes and small potatoes … brown meat and onion, add seasoning of paprika and garlic, salt, tomatoes … add in small potatoes and gently simmer … making a meal for friends and family, or a smaller pot … serve with sour cream ... 



Remember when using paprika that it has a high sugar content and burns easily …  so do not cook over a high heat for too long, and make sure there’s some liquid in your dish.


Bell Peppers with almonds, add in
some garlic, seasoning and whizz
with oil ... Romesco sauce


There are so many varieties of the capsicum plant that are necessary for particular sauces … eg Romesco Sauce - while for now I’ll leave the cayenne/chili cultivars for another post, together with the fabled Scoville scale.






Paprica Museum in Kalocsa: see here
for more information on the museum


The black pepper, some of us use so liberally, is not related to the capsicum … pepper nigrum is native to south India … and has a different botanical relationship to that of capsicum or to Sichuan pepper.  The generic name “pepper” probably comes from the Greek word kapto ‘to gulp’ … that makes sense?



To tempt you further ... a delicious range of wines,
fruits and dishes from Hungary
Hungarian Cuisine from Globe Centre Travel


This wonderfully useful ancestral spice has been used for generations … so encourage your family and friends to include some in their diet … though be aware, that some people may be allergic to them … but certainly for me I can see the benefits …




… and will continue to enjoy my peppers as a vegetable or in my salads … so many ways to use them …


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

60 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

I too am very fond of peppers. However, capsicum needs to be raw for me (or dried). Cooked capsicum (and carrot) are low on my preferred eating list. Raw? Yum. A personal quirk I cannot explain.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Hubby used to cook with paprika all the time. He goes through phases with his spices. (I think we also ended up with a 5kg bag of the stuff - it's amazing how inventive you get when you've got a huuuge bag to use up!)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I didn't know paprika was a pepper. Big fan of peppers.
Paprika is the winning spice! (Sorry, old movie reference.)

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

My mother loved Hungarian goulash and served it often. I did the same when I raised my family. It was always made in a pressure cooker for both speed and tenderness. Recently, my daughter told me how much she hated that dish. How polite of her to keep that a secret for 20 years. I still like it and paprika is one of my favorite spices.

Nilanjana Bose said...

Love peppers, raw, cooked - all kinds. A most versatile ingredient. Love the colour paprika adds to dishes. Loved goulash too, was served it as a child quite often, but don't make it myself. Must revisit and see. Thanks for the nudge.

Look forward to reading about the Scoville scale...:)

Joanne said...

I love the bright colors. Ray uses paprika in his tacos. I also think that is a fun word to say.

Out on the prairie said...

A favorite spice for me, I make a gravy with it that I learned in Czech, and really like it in many foods

Jacqui said...

Because we're close friends, I'm going to confess: I never realized paprika and Capsicum were the same. Thank goodness I read your blog.

diedre Knight said...

Until now I was positive I would not even try goulash. Now, after reading this post, I'd quite like to! We use paprika not only in Chorizo, but sprinkled on Deviled eggs and in my Best-ever Chili ;-)
On the subject of descriptive passages, your atmospheric prose is beautiful! "the rich haze of summer..." makes me anxious to experience it again ;-)
Thanks for a fantastic paprika history lesson - I've got to stop reading your posts before breakfast. Chili is probably not the best cereal choice;-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC – I love peppers all which ways … but I know they can disagree with people … but I love all veggie raw or freshly cooked … each to his own, I say … or in our case her own!

@ Annalisa – 5kg bag … I typed 50 kg – then thought that really was excessive … oh I can believe you can be inventive with all the spices … wonderful hubby helps out with the cooking … adds spice to life!

@ Alex – oh now I’ve found something you didn’t know about … but then I had to look up the film reference … I think it must be Batchelor Party (1984) … I haven’t seen it!

@ Arleen – oh good I’ve brought back happy memories and see overdone memories re your daughter – how funny – but yes how polite of her. That’s great you still enjoy paprika though …

@ Nila – the pepper plant is a very versatile ingredient isn’t it … and that rouge colour paprika spreads … gorgeous. Haven’t had goulash for years – might need to make amends and try making it again. Hope you give it a go … oh I see I must do cayenne and chilli soon … for the Scoville scale …

@ Joanne – yes I had to put in the bright colours … good for Ray using paprika in his tacos … pepper is an interesting word … when meaning ‘to gulp’: an appropriate term …

@ Steve – you learnt from the right source – Czech paprika gravy … for goulash … it has an earthy flavour – you’d better start putting some of your Czech cooking ideas on your blog?!

@ Jacqui – not to worry … plenty of things I’m learning through this blogging process … delighted you feel you learn too

@ Diedre – that’s great … I used to love goulash and cooked it quite often … devilled eggs are so good, as too chili – it’s cold enough for that now – I might do some this weekend.

Thanks re the descriptive passages … and my atmospheric prose – never sure where the words come from … probably from Fermor and his books … but it is certainly descriptive as I sit here in freezing fog! I could do with some sun …

When I write about food – it is probably a good idea to read the post at an appropriate time of day … as with all food blogs or posts … chili would not be good for breakfast.

Thanks so much – glad paprika has rung some sunny bells … cheers to you all from a cold, freezing UK … Hilary

Annalisa Crawford said...

Just thought I should point out, Hubby does ALL the cooking. I have a repertoire of 2 dishes that my kids suffer through when Hubby is away :-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Annalisa ... I see you peeked back in ... brilliant to have a hubby who does all the cooking ... good for him, and lucky for you ... ?! Dare I say poor kids?! Still they will happily survive I expect ... thanks for the extra comment - cheers Hilary

Suzanne Furness said...

Such wonderful colours here today, makes me feel peekish!A nice warming goulash in this cold weather would be perfect. Best wishes, Hilary.

Anabel Marsh said...

I use paprika a lot - I particularly like the smoked version which gives a lovely flavour to a dish.

Munir said...

My daughter says that she would go to the Paprika museum. The Paprika blaze is indeed amazing. Such an elaborate research on peppers. Thanks for sharing.

Lenny Lee* said...

hi my grandblogmom!

another spicy post.:)neat how a little red pepper made it's way around the world.

how about something a little warm, a little cool, a little sweet, and just plain delicious...paprika ice cream!

...hugs

Liz A. said...

I thought paprika was very expensive. Perhaps I'm confusing it with something else.

D.G. Hudson said...

Saffron is another spice that is bought as red threads, very fine, and it is expensive so that may be what Liz was thinking of. I've used paprika all my life, although I started teaching myself about herbs and spices in my twenties when cooking was an adventure. I was in a new country with new recipes.
I've had goulash but it's not a favorite - it's quite similar to a stew (at least what I had was). I still owe you a reply, Hilary. It will come.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Suzanne - yes the colours are just magical aren't they ... nothing like a glistening pepper ... oh I agree a warming goulash would be just so lovely now ... we needed the cold for a while ... but I'll be glad to see the sun come out again!

@ Anabel - yes, the smoked variety does give that extra flavour to various dishes ...

@ Munir - oh that's good your daughter would like to visit the Paprika museum. That old boy hanging his paprika peppers out to dry is 'a blaze' isn't it .. glad you enjoyed the post ...

@ Lenny - yes another spicy post ... lots of them out there to write about ... and the movement of plants is fascinating ... and the dishes we create from them. Ummmmmmmmmm - paprika ice-cream ... then I looked and of course ... chocolate and paprika ice-cream = a match made 'in heaven' ... so you could well be right ... but I think I'll keep my ice-cream chocolate, and my paprika savoury! Interesting thought though ...

@ Liz - yes as DG notes below ... we think you're thinking of Saffron ... I*'ll write about that too ... sometime!

@ DG - you've identified Liz's query ... I love Saffron - I call it the Cornish spice. It's great you've tried so many things and taught yourself as you went along ... new country, new recipes ... I did too - especially as things were relatively scarce in the 60s, opening doors to Mediterranean foods and then Asian foods as time went on ..

I suspect goulash was at a time when I used to try different things and for a while - it certainly became one of my dishes, as too stroganoff ... sour cream I used to love! Onions and garlic in the sauce, then the paprika giving the dish that earthy flavour ...

No rush re a reply ... but thanks for letting me know ...

Thanks everyone for adding to the comments - I'm always fascinated by the ideas and thoughts you give us ... I had certainly never thought of paprika ice-cream - thanks Lenny! Cheers to you all ... and have good weekends - Hilary

Elsie Amata said...

Once again, I learned something new by visiting your blog: I had no idea that paprika had a high sugar content and that's important because my hubby has diabetes and I use it all the time. Good to know. Thank you!

Julie Flanders said...

I never thought a post about paprika could be so interesting but of course you make it so, Hilary! I love peppers and had no idea paprika was one - no wonder I love the taste.

Sherry Ellis said...

I've always associated paprika with Hungarian food, too. It's a surprise to know that in comes from South America.

Botanist said...

That paprika veal sounds delicious! Must give that a try, we're always on the lookout for new ideas to break out of the same-old same-old.

Keith's Ramblings said...

Now you are talking! Paprika, king of the spices. My favourite? Smoked paprika. I might just dip my finger in the pot right now!

Lynn said...

Paprika certainly makes everything more beautiful, when sprinkled around. I do like smoked paprika, too. And I make a rub for roasted fish that has paprika in it. It's so beautiful when cooked.

Mark Noce said...

I like spicy food, but that's a lot of peppers. I'll definitely need the wine too:)

Rhonda Albom said...

I'm a big fan of capsicums although I prefer the fresh variety for salads or in strips for dipping. And paprika is a good substitute for chili peppers in Texmex seasoning for chili con carne ( for those of us who don't like it hot.)

beste barki said...

Hilary, your post and pictures remind us of the creative and generous gifts nature gives us.

D Biswas said...

I love the spice of pepper! Thanks for sharing such in-depth details, Hilary.

Damyanti

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Elsie – that’s good: the sugar content will be relative … and only when cooked on a high heat, and needs some liquid … then it’d be fine … check it out too … might apply to other veg and fruits … I don’t know anything about diabetes – I’m afraid.

@ Julie – thank you, it was a pleasure to write up. I love peppers too … so now enjoy even more …

@ Sherry – I’m glad I’m not the only one that thought paprika came from Hungary – thanks for joining me in that!

@ Ian – great that I inspired you to try something different … I’m just glad no-one’s asked for the actual recipe, as that would be troublesome! I tend not to follow recipes exactly – never have … Good luck and I do hope you enjoy it …

@ Keith – well Mr Chef thank you for this comment … Paprika certainly rules with some people … dipping fingers into the spice pot sounds an interesting thought!

Lynn – yes … it is a colourful spice … your rub for roasted fish sounds a great idea … one I must remember … and beautiful food is a joy to eat …

@ Mark – spicy food is always good, but those subtle tastes work well too – oh yes, got to have the wine as well …

@ Rhonda – like you I mostly eat my peppers in salads or as slices with dips … but occasionally will stuff them with goodies as a vegetarian dish … I agree sometimes chili is too much … but I love chili con carne …

@ Beste – nature does provide us with so much, and what it gives us is so adaptable too (usually) … generous gifts as you mention …

@ Damyanti – thanks … just glad you enjoyed the post … it was interesting to write up …

Cheers to you all – so glad the post has resonated … thank you - Hilary

mail4rosey said...

My mom used to make Hungarian goulash. I forgot all about it until you mentioned it here. I'm going to ask her if she still makes it (she lives in a different state). :) Have an awesome day, Hilary!

Patsy said...

It's easy to see why capsicums were grown for decorative purposes - usually the plants are attractive and the fruits come in so many colours and shapes.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I'm a fan of many different kinds of peppers, but learned the hard way... quite some years ago... that it is NOT a good idea to put contact lenses in your eyes after cutting up some of them. (OWWWWW!)

However, even though I use it in my cooking, I didn't realize paprika was a pepper. See how many new things you teach me? Not all ground paprika are created equal, though. The inexpensive stuff doesn't have much taste.

A Cuban In London said...

Paprika, or "pimentón" in Spanish, has been my best mate for a few good years now. Whatever I make, stew, broth, soup, hotpot, I must put some paprika in it. Great post. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Rosey - oh that's great ... I'm sure she'll still have the recipe and then you can, I hope, starting making it ... happy memories ...

@ Patsy - they are very pretty plants and useful for decoration ... I love seeing them around ... also the glossy colours ...

@ Susan - they are delicious ... but oh gosh putting contact lenses back in after chopping some peppers up - sounds really painful ... very uncomfortable for quite a long time ... I feel for you ...

It's funny what we don't realise about things that we use everyday ... but re equality of paprikas - yes ... good quality is needed! No point in having the tasteless sweepings ...

@ ACIL - sorry I didn't use the modifier for "pimenton" ... I thought about it - but then left it ... I can imagine you'd love paprika ... and Cuban cuisine must use paprika as part of its heritage cuisine. It's interesting how we can have a need to use one or two spices in many dishes ...

Cheers to you all - I can see some Hungarian goulash dishes being made once again ... enjoy them. Hilary

Sarah E. Albom said...

I love capsicum whether it's cooked or raw. It's one of my favourite vegetables!

Maria said...

I love Paprika and have a both ordinary and smoked in my spice rack. I also love peppers, and try to sneak them into everything!
I only really got into eating Goulash a few years ago though, and haven't yet made my own. I really must address that as I don't know why I haven't tried before...
Thank you for sharing - very informative.

Connie Arnold said...

I have heard about the benefits of peppers and enjoy some of them. I don't use paprika much. Interesting to learn more about them from your informative post. Thank you, Hilary!

dolorah said...

I did not know paprika was a pepper. Not a fan of peppers, but do like to cook with powdered paprika. I have weird taste buds and food allergies.

Denise Covey said...

Hey Hilary! A little dab of paprika livens up the dish for sure. I even add a dash in fried rice. I'm going to make that Hungarian Veal dish. Sounds awesome. :-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sarah - yes I'm with you on that ... peppers are lovely veggie ...

@ Maria - I hope you get to try out a goulash dish ... it's very easy and so good. Glad you enjoyed the post ...

@ Connie - yes peppers are meant to be really good for us aren't they. I'm happy you enjoyed the read.

@ Donna - I think everything changes once it's cooked, or dried ... so can understand you only like paprika ... eating what suits you is essential in life ...

@ Denise - yes a few spices to fried rice give it an extra kick ... that's great you'll try the Hungarian Veal dish .. it is delicious ...

Thanks everyone - so good to see you and know that a few of you will try the Goulash dish ... have good weeks - cheers Hilary

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Fabulous post, Hilary. I really enjoy your herb/spice series. Coincidentally, saw something about paprika on the box not long ago, though it was not as informative as your post, here. We do a kind of Spanish chicken thing, using chorizo as the oil for cooking, and sprinkle a mix of oregano with a tiny amount of smoked paprika to give it an essential flavour! Yum. The trouble is, your post has made me hungry...

Gattina said...

I love the Hungarian kitchen ! My grandma used to make Hungarian goulash, a plate I often ate as a child but later made it myself. In Northern Italy and in parts of Germany they eat Hungarian goulash too, it's still coming from the influence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire

H.R. Sinclair, Southpaw said...

I really like smoked Hungarian paprika. I didn't know it didn't originate in Hungary! The color of the dried paprika is so gorgeous.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Mike - thanks ... I enjoyed writing it and learnt quite a lot too. I didn't catch the tv thing about paprika ... but am glad I added to the story. I love having a bit of chorizo with some dishes ... your chicken paprika dish sounds very tasty ... and oregano would make a good addition ... sorry about the hunger aspect! It was nearly lunchtime for you ...

@ Gattina - I imagine your family would have had recipes to draw on - your grandmother's would be good to pass on down the family ... and yes northern Italy and parts of southern Germany ... that Austro-Hungarian empire does influence here.

@ Holly - that's good ... and it is fascinating about paprika isn't it ... and that colour ... cheers Hilary

Christine Rains said...

Marvelous post! And I love see the colors of the peppers. I am not a pepper fan, but my husband is and we like to grow them in pots during the summer. We have to keep them up because the bunnies like to eat the flowers!

Chrys Fey said...

I don't use paprika often, but I sure can appreciate it for its kick and flavor. :)

Mary Montague Sikes said...

My mother loved paprika and always covered her delicious deviled eggs with it. Thank you for reminding me!

Inger said...

How fun to get to visit paprika again. My first husband was from Hungary and I knew the entire Hungarian community in Princeton. Lots of very sharp phycisists and so on. And so much fun and so much goulash, paprika chicken, and so on. Great memories, thanks.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Christine - delighted to read you grow the peppers in pots - probably the best way ... and rabbits eating things - anything I guess!

@ Chrys - yes it gives a lift to some foods and that colour ...

@ Monti - devilled eggs - those are foods from the past - though I do see them appearing occasionally - I'm happy this post gives you memories of your mother ...

@ Inger - that's wonderful to read ... and what a fun first husband to have and be a part of that Hungarian community. Interesting life you've had. Sharp physicists offering lots of goulash, paprika chicken etc ... glad I brought these memories back for you ...

Cheers to you all and it's been fascinating seeing how so many of you have memories of goulash and peppers ... Hilary

Deniz Bevan said...

Yum, now I feel like eating goulash.
Every time you mention Fermor I'm reminded that I still haven't read him yet! I really want to. Got to move him higher up the wishlist! :-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Denise - I know I've been making dishes a little more like goulash recently ... Yes do move Fermor right to the top of your 'to read list' ... he's very good - such a lot of information is contained in each book ... I just get bowled over ... I think I'd better get the third out now! Your appetite for travel will be extended a great deal! Cheers Hilary

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Such a wonderful post. Who else would think to entertain us with stories of paprika? Thank you, Hilary. Paprika has always been one of my favourite spices. Loved learning more about it.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Joylene - delighted this entertains you ... and I guess my approach here is somewhat different ... it's certainly not factual is it. But I enjoyed writing it up ... cheers Hilary

Karen Lange said...

My experience with paprika extends to my mom sprinkling it on deviled eggs when I was young, and that's about it. So this is interesting. I'll have to explore some other recipes. As for peppers, I like them, and prefer the sweet varieties. Like you, I enjoy them in my salads, etc. They're also good with a bit of veggie dip. Thanks for another informative and wonderful post, Hilary! :)

DMS said...

I have only had paprika in small dishes (like deviled eggs). I recently saw something about the variety of paprika used in Hungarian goulash. It was nice to build off of the little knowledge of the spice that I had with all the interesting bits you had here. Thanks for sharing! :)
~Jess

beste barki said...

I remember coal and steam trains from my early childhood. I also have quite a few memories of riding in trains throughout my life. We all love trains, don't we?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Karen - ah .. that's good I've brought back memories of your mother and now perhaps you'll try some other recipes with peppers ... the sweet ones are the most versatile types ...

@ DMS - devilled eggs ... that post war 'new delight' ... but I'm glad this post has added to your knowledge and I hope you'll give them a try ...

@ Beste - This refers to the next post .. but trains are trains and no doubt carried peppers at some stages ...

The coal and steam trains just were so romantic ... escapism at its best ...

Thanks to you three ... devilled eggs again and Beste's train .. all good - cheers Hilary

Jo said...

Sorry I missed this Hilary, I always loved Goulash and I make many dishes with sweet peppers. One of my favourites recently is Italian sausage with fried peppers and onions. I did post the recipe a while back. I like the veal recipe you mentioned, sounds good.

We used to use a lot more spices in the UK than seem to be used here.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

No worries - but when you wrote about Goulash ... I just wondered if you'd commented here and was slightly surprised you hadn't - seeing as it's food related. Peppers are a great vegetable - all which ways .. and your sausage with onions and peppers sounds good ... I know the veal was the one I used to use. I think the spices are probably influenced by our cosmopolitan peoples ... we have a huge range of different cultures here now. Cheers and thanks for coming by - Hilary