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TO HUNGARY, WITH LOVE
We're in FOOD & WINE!!! Sharing a peek into our life in Hungary, plus Nagymama's lacy palacsinta (Hungarian pancakes), homemade Lekvar (fruit butter), tangy fruit soup and a buttery plum cake.
I’m writing you with the bubbly, joyous sensation when something you’ve worked really hard on for a very long time is out in the world. I’ve had that sensation before (as with, writing four books that each took two to three years to make) but—this is different. This week the June Issue of Food & Wine magazine landed on newsstands with this headline: HUNGARIAN RAPSODY—a story I wrote about the muse of our summer kitchen: Hungarian stone fruits. In a sense, this story was two years in the making (I pitched the story back in 2020, wrote it in the summer of 2021, deep in pandemic vibes, and re-wrote it and photographed it in the summer of 2022)—but in a very real way, it was also a story, 15 years in the making.
This very week, 15 years ago, Andras proposed to me in the woods behind the quiet village of Porva, where he spent his boyhood summers with his Nagymama (grandma), and where his parents now live. The editors couldn’t have known that when they picked this week for the issue to land, but it feels kismet all the same.
Over the last decade and a half, we have slowly rebuilt crumbly stone walls, repaired ancient tile, planted fruit trees, dug ditches, and built wells on a home that we call ours, one door down from Andras’ parents. But mostly, what we’ve done is build memories—a life that once was his alone and is now ours—me and his, and our children’s. Those of you who have been around here the last year already know we spent 5 months living in Hungary last summer and fall. It was so meaningful to share recipes and stories from that time with you here—all the while knowing I had to squirrel away some of the best secrets—the recipes, the stories, the images—for this moment: the summer FRUIT ISSUE of Food & Wine. And now it is live (see, here)!!
I could say a lot of things: Mostly, I’m honored to be a vessel for sharing the joy and struggle and triumph of the Hungarian spirit, of the culture and cuisine that’s been ravaged by wars for hundreds of years. I’m proud of this story in the way I’m proud of my kids, and of my marriage—I have seen the difficult parts that lead us to this moment— it hasn’t always been a romantic fairy tale (though it appears as such on these pages), but it’s all the more beautiful because of that fact.
It is layered, rich, hard-won, and delicious.
I won’t say much more for now, because I hope you’ll find the magazine and read the story and make these recipes (linked below)—learned from my mother-in-law, passed to me and to my children—and now, to you.
In the meantime, I’m leaving you with a photo diary of Hungary’s magic, shot by the incomparable Aubrie Pick during her week in our world. It’s a diary of our village and our family and our home. For all of this beauty, I can take only partial credit. This is the vision of my husband, who bought this crumpled home as a cash-strapped young immigrant to America, well before he knew me—singularly driven to reclaim what his family lost after two world wars, and a long and grueling communist regime. It’s his blood, sweat, and tears, his devotion to family, and his willingness to welcome me to be his partner in all of this that has given me license and passion to know and love this place too. To dare to call it my own, my home.
To Hungary, with love. Thank you, for everything you have given us.
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THE RECIPES* //
*Dive into these links to read the head notes, which often explain the history, context, and texture of these recipes, and the flavors you can expect when you make them.*
Photos by Aubrie Pick for Food & Wine. Styling by Sarah Copeland. All plates, linens, porcelain, and surfaces are our own: a collection of family heirlooms, plus handmade, hunted and gathered goods from within Hungary. Incredible thanks to Food & Wine editors Hunter Lewis, Oset Babür-Winter, Cheryl Slocum, and Karen Shimizu, as well as to the incredible designers and copy team who made this story sing.