“Goulash reminds me of my father”, Katalin

Katalin is a friend from Switzerland. The last time I visited her she made this goulash. The photo shows so much. Yes, it was very tasty, perfect on a cold night.
When I am in the same room as someone cooking I cannot leave them alone. I want to know what they are cooking and especially how. As she explained what she was doing she started talking about her father.
After the war he had moved to Switzerland. There, he met a young Swiss girl and the rest is history.
He was the main cook in the house, dinner was his responsibility. They all had to wait for him to return from work to have their dinner. Being Hungarian it often meant plenty of stews with lots of paprika and garlic.
” His cooking was very different from Swiss cooking, it had so much more spices. On weekends, we would wake up to the wonderful smell of toast and garlic – large slices of good bread toasted and then rubbed with fresh garlic…
… he was so good with us children. I think of him often and still miss him, even today after 36 years. “


“Food memories involve very basic, nonverbal, areas of the brain that can bypass your conscious awareness,” she told me. “This is why you can have strong emotional reactions when you eat a food that arouses those deep unconscious memories. You can’t put those memories into words, but you know there is ‘something’ that the food triggers deep within your past. The memory goes beyond the food itself to the associations you have to that long-ago memory, whether with a place or a person.” According to Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Professor Emerita of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

I love fried plantain bananas… it was called Alloco.
These we used to buy on the side of the street when living in Africa as a young boy. Returning to Canada I never had them again. Now living in Ireland there are many African and Asian shops that sell them, so I have bought them and after a few tries I was able to replicate the taste ( really good in red palm oil, the way it tasted almost 50 years ago! … not sure if that is Ok today. I guess it depend where it comes from ).

My memories when eating them;- dusty dirt roads in dry season, wet humid days in rainy season- going barefoot everywhere except to mass and school- ladies on the side of the street selling food, Gbofloto donuts after mass with sugar- climbing mangoes trees and eating green mangoes- the large papaya tree in our garden- my brother getting sick from eating too much of Alloco and very hot pili pili sauce – our old white Peugeot 404 stationwagon that my father drove at great speed- roasted peanuts in sand, the very best!- there are more…many more memories … that food triggers.


Goulash, probably one of the most popular Hungarian dishes, was one of Katalin’s father’s specialties. His secret ingredient was cumin seeds. Lightly toasted at the start to bring out all the flavour and at least a good tablespoon.
Some years ago Katalin became vegan. One problem was her family, they found vegan cooking / food not to their taste… and then what to do about the goulash. She decided to try and veganize it. With TVP ( textured vegetable protein ) she convinced her family to try it and they were pleasantly surprised.
Now she makes it for them every time they visit, actually they request it. A little of their father’s cooking remains and a little Katalin’s touch… for the new generation.
I also remember the stories of Katalin’s father when I make this since she has tought me to do it and it is a hit in our house now. His name was Gyula.


Gyula’s Goulash

… enough for 6 hungry souls
4 onions – coarsely chopped 4 garlic cloves – sliced 50 – 70 g textured soya pieces, dry 4 carrots – chopped in bite size pieces 2 red peppers – coarsely chopped 1 tin – 400g chopped tomatoes ( or three fresh tomatoes) 4 potatoes – cut in quarters 3 tbsps – tomato paste ½ cup of red wine, optional ½ cup of fresh parsley – finely chopped Enough water to cover the vegetables, plus another cup 1 tbsp cumin seeds 4 tbsps – sweet paprika 1 tsp – ground black pepper Salt to taste ( it will need a good tsp or two )

I know it may seem like a lot of onion but it is an important ingredient, as are the 4 tbsps. of paprika & the cumin seeds. Hungarian food is all about red peppers = paprika.
1. Rehydrate the soya pieces TVP, with a cup of water or broth. Give it 10 to 15 minutes, then fry them in a little oil until brown, set aside.2. In a large dry pot add a drop of oil, then soften the onions, cumin seeds and the garlic. 3. Add the peppers and carrots and cook another few minutes before adding the soya pieces, the tomato paste, the paprika, the black pepper, the chopped tomatoes and the red wine.4. After a minute pour in enough water to cover everything. Bring this to the boil and simmer for approx. 45 minutes to an hour.4. While the goulash is slowly cooking, steam or boil the cubed potatoes. Once ready, set them aside.5. At the 45 minute mark taste the stew for salt. If the taste the paprika is distinctive, cook another 10 to 15 minutes.6. Stir in the parsley at the end.7. To serve, place a few potatoes on your plate or a wide bowl and cover with a nice ladle full of goulash. Sprinkle with a little more parsley on top.

My attempt – I also added chickpeas … I love chickpeas in any sauce!!!