"Hungarian Cookbook: Old World Recipes for New World Cooks" by Yolanda Nagy Fintor has a long title. It should. There is a lot packed in it.
As cookbooks go, this is among the most accessible I have read. While many tend to err with a tone too haute cuisine, Fintor realizes she's suggesting ordinary people cook these dishes.
To many Americans asking themselves what Hungarian food is, I can say it is a good, good thing. It will challenge your arteries, but delight your soul. Your stomach will be happy too. Here, you will find recipes proving that.
Fintor explains in a brief introduction a history of Hungarian cuisine. She writes how, despite its present unique place in the culinary world, it began as an amalgamation of French, Italian, Turkish, German and Transylvanian food.
While not exactly useful to the American cook, she has a section on Hungarian language. Now, you can pronounce the dish names when your Hungarian date comes over for dinner. If things work out, you will impress your spouse's family too.
More practical to most readers is her sections on how to interpret the recipes, and what ingredients you will need handy. The difference this makes is important, like that vinegar to be used is distilled white, and that butter should be the salted kind.
Keyed into the needs of beginning cooks, Fintor provides some useful tips, a glossary of basic cooking terns (like dredge, dice, trussing, and what roux is).
Recipes are the bulk of the book, with some black and white pictures of dishes. The layout is easy on the eyes. Directions are straightforward. Occasionally, she gives ideas to adapt the recipe to an American context, in case the ingredients are somewhat different. The only significant drawback is the hardcover design, which makes keeping it open while cooking difficult.
The recipe sections are as follows, each with an introduction:
Appetizers, relishes, and sauces Salads Soups Biscuits, dumplings, and noodles Poultry Meats Vegetables Desserts Breads Wines (no recipes, just an introduction).
I fully recommend "Hungarian Cookbook: Old World Recipes for New World Cooks" by Yolanda Nagy Fintor. Jó Étvágyat! (May you have a good appetite!)
Anthony Trendl editor, HungarianBookstore.com
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