Yesterday, as the aroma of braised short ribs in red wine wafted through the house, my mind wandered to days past. One of my favorite smells to remember goes back to the year we lived in Germany. We window shopped a lot in those days, but my favorite day out was usually late morning or early afternoon when I liked walking through neighborhoods and smell the kitchen smells escaping into the streets. Always onions and bacon together produced the most mouth-watering effect. I often wished I knew these wonderful cooks and could go in to sample what was on the stove. Browned meats, pork and sauerkraut, cabbage, real European fare.
The week I spent in rural Budapest, Hungary, was similar. I so enjoyed walking the streets of this little village and there, the sweet and savory flavor of paprika also mixed with the wonderful smells coming out of these Hungarian kitchens. Quite often I would see the grandmas of these homes, dressed in black and head scarfs, gray hair peeking out on the top and sides, and smiling and waving as they sat on their steps or were hoeing in their gardens. How I wished I could speak to them and ask what was cooking in the kitchen.
I was on a Mission trip that time with teenagers from our church, so we ate in the castle where we were living for the week and the food was very basic, not very flavorful, but the bread....it was delivered each morning and the loaves were at least 18 inches in diameter and must have weighed close to 5 pounds. Bread and homemade jam...it was so good.
The island S. Francesco del Deserto
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