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
… 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.
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 – 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 …
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