Saturday, April 5, 2014


I started a new job in February, so I did not do much food-history-related research throughout March, let alone creative cooking. April threatens to be just as busy, so I wanted to post a quick update before I descend into a welter of tax preparation and bill paying. My husband has asked me to try making a Hungarian goulash, so I thought I'd do a little bit of looking into the history of that dish. This quote from The Food Timeline gives the gist of the history of goulash:
Gulyás  (Goulash) in a traditional bogrács (cauldron)
Food historians trace the genesis of Goulash (gulyas), a thick soup/stew, to 9th century Hungarian shepherds. In fact? the term "Gulyas" literally translates as "herdsmen." Soup played a key role in the early pastoral diet. Dried meats and vegetables were eminently portable and easily reconstuted. Over the years, Hungarian Goulash evolved from peasant fare to signature national dish. Interpretations, especially in the USA, range from somewhat authentic to amalgamated leftovers whose only claim to Hungary is a generous helping of paprika. It is interesting to note that paprika, the spice that has become almost synonymous with Hungary, was probably not introduced until the 16th century. By the 19th century it was perceived globally as THE key ingredient in Hungarian cuisine.
So goulash is a meat stew or soup, perhaps not too different from the stews of the Viking farmers which have long fascinated me. I expect to use a modern recipe with paprika and Worcestershire sauce, neither of which are period for those 9th and 10th century CE Hungarian shepherds (though Worcestershire sauce, being an arguable descendant of Roman garum, comes closer to being period), but I'm sure my spouse will appreciate the change after 6 weeks of alternating chili con carne with an ordinary beef stew. I recommend reading the rest of the Food Timeline's goulash entry; it emphasizes the absence of paprika from the original versions of the dish.

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