Thursday, August 27, 2009

An Airship Luncheon.

The gigantic German airship, the Graf Zeppelin, set off from Lakehurst, New Jersey on August 8, 1929, on the first leg of the first official round the world flight to be taken by such an aircraft (the designated route chosen by its chief financer – William Randolph Hearst.) The first destination was Tokyo; the second leg was to Los Angeles, which was reached on August 26. The following day the Zeppelin set off for Lakehurst, which was reached three days later. The airship spent 12 days in the air, and flew over 30,000 miles.

The twenty-odd lucky (wealthy) passengers aboard the airship enjoyed delicious food in the dining room of the gondola. The menu for the first luncheon (on this day in 1929) on the final leg from Los Angeles to Lakehurst was:

Honey Dew Melon au Citron
Hungarian Goulash
Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette

“Hungarian Goulash” is a great subject for the great authenticity debate. The name comes from the Hungarian gulyás meaning herdersman (or cowboy), and hús meaning meat. It is a soup, or a stew, or a soupy stew that is the pot-au-feu or hot-pot of the Balkans - and as with every staple one-pot dish, every mother’s son in every village claims hers as the “authentic” version. So, is “authentic” goulash made from beef, or pork? Is it cooked in lard, or oil? Does it include tomatoes? Potatoes? Is it garnished with sour cream, or is that a sacrilege? The only constant is the paprika, right?

About the only thing I am sure of (I think) is that there is no “authentic” vegetarian goulash.

Here are two versions from The International Jewish Cookbook, by Florence Kreisler Greenbaum, 1921 – not a Hungarian cookbook, an American one. I don’t read Hungarian, but I do read American (although admit to being confused by it at times). I eagerly await comments from better linguists and better informed culinary experts.

Note that in these versions, there is no paprika, no sour cream, but one version has pasta.

Hungarian Goulash.
Have two pounds of beef cut into one inch squares. Dredge in flour and fry until brown. Cover with water and simmer for two hours; the last half-hour add one tablespoon of salt and one-eight of a teaspoon of pepper. Make a sauce by cooking one cup of tomatoes and one stalk of celery cut in small pieces, a bay leaf and two whole cloves, for twenty-five minutes; rub through a sieve, add to stock in which meat was cooked. Thicken with flour tablespoons of flour moistened with two tablespoons of water. Serve meat with cooked diced potaotes, carrots, and green and red peppers cut in strips.

Russian Goulash.
To one pound of beef, free form fat, and cut up as pan stew, add one chopped green pepper, one large onion, two blades of garlic (cut fine), pepper and salt, with just enough water to cover. Let this simmer until meat is very tender. Add a little water as needed. Put in medium sized can of tomatoes an hour or so before using and have ready two cups of cooked spaghetti or macaroni, and put this into the meat until thoroughly heated. This must not be too wet; let water cook away just before adding tomatoes.

See also a previous post on “Eating in the Air”

Quotation for the Day.

Well, art is art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water! And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now, uh... Now you tell me what you know.
Groucho Marx.


George Biron said...

Way off the mark for someone who does as much research as you seem to do. Sorry but not really good enough. Try George lang's book its written by a Hungarian in American.
Still love your site.

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Sunnybrae - sorry to have disappointed you on this one (but glad you are coming back :)) I dont pretend to be an expert on anything in particular and sometimes toss these ideas out to get theories or answers back. I do think it is interesting to see how other cultures interpret "traditional" recipes though, dont you? George Lang's book is on my (very long) list of books to find and read.

George Biron said...

Of course traditional is a big question and surely all of history be it food or something else is an interpretation of tradition/politics whatever. If we can learn anything from old cookery sources its surely that stuff evolves. Most blogs publish to draw comment and create frisson so I guess I fell for it. Still it would have been some occasion on the blimp.