What is burnt toast, cold mealy porridge, meat so dry and tough you choke on it before you can swallow it? Well, it’s not Hungarian, that’s for sure!
My little Hungarian life was tragically upset when my mother was sent away to convalesce, my brother sent to an orphanage and I was boarded at a former neighbors. “Very English” means “very bad food”. Even our pitiful poor refugee food, such as rendered pork lard on bread with salt, or stale bread in boiled milk with sugar poured on top, was so delicious compared to this food hell I found myself in. Freezing under hard cold sheets away from home, I longed for my warm bed with my fluffy duna, and warm lemon tea with lots of sugar in it.
On Friday nights, my father came to fetch me on his bicycle. We rode through town, up the hill to our first home. The one we built, not a shabby, dirty, pitiful, state-run rental. I was hypnotized by the up and down motion of his feet, his ankles clipped with metal springs holding his pants away from the bike chain. I stared into the milky way praying we’d be home soon.
Finally, I smell the bacon slowly frying with half rounds of sliced onion, pale feher paprika , and rich tomatoes from the garden. When the bacon was barely cooked, the onions and peppers just wilted, he slipped the half rounds of tomato and cracked a few fresh eggs on top, making little spaces where the egg whites would run and cook evenly. When it was cooked, he served it with a thick slice of toast and warm tea with lemon in it. I don’t remember talking, or really anything else for that matter, except waiting at the table, watching him carefully tending the pan. He was meticulous, so it was always perfect, always beautiful, never burnt or undercooked. I have never to this day been able to recreate his LECSÓ the way he made it.