Month: July 2011

The Hungarian Stew or Pörkölt

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To dispel some misbelief: The pörkölt is a Hungarian stew with boneless meat, paprika, some vegetables and no potato. It should not be confused with Goulash, which is a soup (using meat with bones, paprika, caraway, vegetables and potato or different tiny dumplings or pasta simmered along with the meat), or Paprikás (using only meat, paprika and thick heavy sour cream). The traditional Hungarian stews: Pörkölt and Paprikás along with the traditional soup “Goulash” are considered to be the national dishes of Hungary. There are different pörkölt variations from region to region. In most parts of Hungary pörkölt is made with beef or pork. By the way the word Pörkölt simply means “roasted” and made of meat, onion, and sweet paprika powder. Bell peppers, tomatoes or tomato paste, green pepper and garlic are common additions to the basic recipe.

Any kind of meat can be used when making pörkölt. Most common are beef, chicken and pork, but game, tripe and liver can also be used. A popular meal in traditional Hungarian cuisine is a pörkölt made of tripe, called pacalpörkölt (Pacal is the Hungarian word for tripe). It has a unique and very distinguishable taste from other kinds of pörkölt, often being quite spicy.

Some tricks

Much of the quality of a pot of pörkölt is found in the use of the very few ingredients. The spiciness and the taste of the paprika powder used is very important to the taste. A simple Hungarian trick for making good pörkölt is first frying the onions in lard or oil, before making anything else. Then set aside the pot and immediately add paprika powder and the meat and “stir-fry” – (this is the origin of the verb “pörkölni” – to roast). This way the juices are kept inside. Water is added, the same volume as the meat. Pörkölt should be simmered slowly in very little liquid. Flour should never be used to thicken a Hungarian pörkölt. In Hungary pörkölt is served with pasta (tészta), tarhonya (big Hungarian pasta grains) or galuska/nokedli as a side dish. Boiled potato is also a common garnish, and pickles go with the dish nicely counterbalancing the heavy stew with a touch of sour.

There is a different style Hungarian pörkölt stew, tokány, a Transylvanian pörkölt stew that doesn’t emphasize the use of paprika. These are stews using black pepper and kitchen herbs like marjoram for spices instead, often made with mixed meats, vegetables and wild mushrooms. Tokány is often served topped with sour cream. The meat in the tokány is cut into thin long slices, not cubed.

My recipe:

Ingredients: 2 medium onions, chopped, 1 pound beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes, 2 tablespoons oil, 1-1/2 cups hot water, 3 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste, 1 l of meat bouillon

Directions: In a large skillet sautée onions in oil or lard fat. Add meat to it and brown in all sides. Pour off excess fat from skillet. Add bouillon to the meat, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan. Stir in the paprika, salt, (tomato paste and garlic are optionals). Cover and cook for 1 hour long or until meat is tender.  Prepare pasta or potato or galuska. Transfer meat to a large serving bowl; cover and keep warm. (Yield: 6 servings).

In the Czech Republic pörkölt is made with pork, beer, dark bread and caraway. Often large Czech knedlíky dumplings are served with it. In Slovakia the dish is called perkelt and is served with Halušky dumplings. Goulash (Polish: Gulasz)—a dish is similar to Hungarian Pörkölt—is also popular in Poland and is usually eaten with buckwheat kasha.

My name is Bond, James Bond

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For Bond fans, it has been easy to identify the man who gave 007 his name, but damnably difficult to decide who, if anyone, Fleming based his character on

On the search for the real James Bond

James Bond is dead. Or let’s put it another way, the famous ornithologist called James Bond, whose seminal book Birds of the West Indies Ian Fleming was reading when he was desperately searching for a name for his fictional secret agent, is dead. He died in 1989, having given his name to the twentieth century’s most famous fictional character and received, in return, a signed copy of You only live twice from Fleming. Fleming liked the name immediately saying later ”I was determined my secret agent should be as anonymous as possible. This name brief unromantic and yet very masculine, was just what I needed”. For Bond fans, it has been easy to identify the man who gave 007 his name, but damnably difficult to decide who, if anyone, Fleming based his character on. The contenders include Ian himself, his brother Peter, their father Valentine, an obscure British diplomat called James Boone, and a trio of spies (Tory MP Sir Fitzroy, Maclean, Patrick Dalzel-Job and even a Yugoslav double agent called Dusko Popov). The Boone rumour is easiest to dispose of. The source is Miles Copeland, the ex-CIA agent best known as the manager of 80-s rock group The Police. In his 1974 book Without Cloak Or Dagger, he says „British intelligence officers who knew Fleming entertain the theory that he built his Bond stories around one James Boone, a Foreign Office administrative inspector whose real job was to examine inventories of supplies at British diplomatic missions in the Middle East and Africa but who pretended to his girfriends it was only cover for more glamorous missions. Copeland alleges that Boone fought and killed a local in Tehran in a row over a girlfriend and the slain man turned out to be a major local villain (although Boone hadn’t realized this when he’d been defending his girlfriend’s honour). There is no mention of Boone in Andrew Lycett’s thorough bioghraphy of Ian Fleming written with the family’s help, and as only Copeland has even mentioned this scenario, it’s probably just cracking story.

How about the Flemings themselves? In truth you can see all of them in Bond. Valentine, who died in WWI. When Ian was 8, remained the dashing young hero in his son’s imagination. As a child, Ian was told to pray each day to be as good as his father-something he never managed. And when Ian was writing the first Bond novel Casino Royal, he was in the midst of personal crisis of his own, dissatisfied with marriage and middle age. He may even have envied his father his ultimely death. Writing spy novels was a distraction from his depression and he created a character as charismatic and as courageous as his father-but less scrupulous. Ian’s elder brother Peter was an excellent travel writer and historian who overshadowed Ian at Eton. He wrote a string of travel books (the best probably being the Brazilian Adventure) having as many globetrotting adventures as 007. His prose style almost reads as if it’s been written by a slightly more sophisticated (and morally more upright) Bond. Ian himself is an extremely obvious model of Bond. The list of things Fleming and Bond have in common is pretty long: losing parents as a child, having a Scottish father, a career in naval intelligence (including promotion to the rank of commander) a love for cars and the same predatory approach to the opposite sex. Where they differed-and this is why the search for the real Bond continues-is that most of Fleming’s work for British intelligence took place behind a desk. Hence the quest to find the agents with Bond’s hands on experience. The most favoured candidates are Maclean, Dalzel Job and Dusko Popov. Fleming did run Popov as an agent in WWII. The Yugoslav’s codename was Tricycle which allegedly referred to his sexual preferences. Popov warned the US of major Japanese attack days before Pearl Harbor, but is chiefly famous for spending 80,000 dollars in fourteen months (1 million at today’s prices) while on a counter-espionage operation in New York. Dalzel-Job was another of Fleming’s agents (he wrote an acclaimed account of his spy service called From Arctic Snow to Dust of Normandy) who like Bond worked in naval intelligence and had a gift for languages. Fitzroy Maclean was a friend of Fleming before the war, and their professional paths crossed during it. Some of Maclean’s stunts while in the SAS (such as parachuting into Yugoslavia to help Tito fight the Nazis) have the derring-do one would expect of 007, and Maclean’s autobiographical account of his adventures, Eastern Approaches has the panache of a Bond novel. A possible clue may lie in Fleming’s attitude to chasing of his hero for the movies. He initialy wasn’t keen on Sean Connery, feeling, a tad ironically given Fleming’s own roots, that he was too Scottish. He wanted someone more quintessentially English-his suggestion were David Niven, Cary Grant and the young Roger Moore. All, you could argue, incredibly idealized and glamorized versions of how Fleming saw himself after a few too many coctails.

About the Author

The rough guide to James Bond, was written by Paul Simpson. I have just bough his book which was published in 2002. He devoted his book to James Bond, the most famous fictional character of the 20th century. The secret agent whose identity is the world’s worst kept secret and who is still the movie hero. He put all the movie Bonds under the microscope; the books-all the novels, spin-off books, Bond’s rivals and Ian Fleming, the man behind 007; the lifestyle – the girls, Q’s finest inventions, the cars, the cocktails; the vintage champagnes, the locations; and the trivia.

Paul Simpson has edited various magazines, launched the adult football magazine Four Four Two, written books on football trivia, the European newspaper industry, and a biography of Paul Gascoigne and has worked for the FT, Q, and The Times. He is the editor of the Rough Guides to Shopping Online and Cult Movies and author of the forthcoming Rough Guides to Elvis and Cult TV.


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Diner en blanc-white dinner in Paris

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The Diner en Blanc is regarded as an exclusive upper-class event with no commercial or political backgrounds. The number of participants, however, is now in the thousands.

As today Dîner en blanc is known, based on private initiative, through networks of friends and family picnics organized mass of people dressed in white in prominent urban locations. The starting point of the phenomenon was Paris. Meanwhile there are similar events held today in several other cities, including in Montreal, in Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, Darmstadt, Zurich, Cologne and Hanover.

As source of the event is called the summer 1988, when a certain Francois Pasquier moved spontaneously his overcrowded private garden party in the nearby Bois de Boulogne . It was a great hit. As a result, he arranged every June at a joint, not registered to the police so the picnic is held secretly in a public place in Paris. Mandatory for all participants is to wear completely white clothes from head to toe. Everybody has to bring their own tables and chairs then they are assembled into long panels with all participants and it is also obligatory to bring a three-course menu and cold drinks. Served as venues including the Place de la Concorde, the terrace of the Palais de Chaillot and the courtyard of the Louvre. The 20 thst Anniversary of the event was held in the avenues of the “Champs-Élysées”. This year in June 17 it took place at Notre Dame.

More recently the idea spread in the German speaking countries. On 29 May 2010 was the first example, Diner en Blanc in Berlin on Bebelplatz with about 400 participants and on 1st of July 2010 gathered about 500 guests all in white in the Munich Hofgarten. However in Hanover the dinner in white has been held since 2008, usually changing constantly in places that are kept secret until the last. Usually remain hidden from the organizers, because events of this magnitude usually not without conditions (toilets, fees, garbage collection, etc.) may be performed. The idea has since spread into a worldwide, picked up by the son of the founder, Aymeric Pasquier, in Montreal. This will attempt to build a network effect in which all the cities together.

The original Diner en Blanc is without any commercialism. By event organizers, champagne producers and other companies now in some professional events and catering are offered admission. So far this form has been rejected by the founders of the Diner en Blanc.

The  flash mob phenomenon is a bit similar to the diner en blanc phenomenon. Flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment and/or satire. Flash mobs are organized via telecommunications, social media, or viral emails. The term, coined in 2003, is generally not applied to events and performances organized for the purposes of politics (such as protests), commercial advertisement, publicity stunts that involve public relation firms, or paid professionals.

Chance for an encounter with Pope Benedict XVIth

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In 2005 the 20th Catholic World Youth Festival (in German: XX. Weltjugendtag) was held in Cologne, Germany (from August 16 to August 21). This was the first participation in the world youth meeting of Pope Benedict XVIth (and me). From Aug 16 to 19th 200 countries, 400,000 young people participated in the programs, schools, universities, church groups, religious organizations and representatives but during the weekend the number had trippled, in 21 of August, 1,200,000 faithful were attended to the Pope’s mass.

At the wrong place at the wrong time

Since I don’t really follow the events of church life’s, it is no wonder that the 20st Catholic World Youth Festival escaped my attention. At that time my husband worked in Munich, and we saw each other far and few between. On the 18th of August was my husband’s turn to come home, and we were ignorant enough toward the outside world so it could happen on that way that we agreed to meet in Cologne. I thought it would also be a good opportunity for a shopping spree. I like Cologne very much, we had often been there with my daughters as it is only two and a half-hours away from Brussels. In the hope of doing some shopping again my younger daughter accompanied me. After a smooth and seamless trip we arrived in Cologne at half past ten, and had easily found a parking place not far from the city. With the joy of seeing my husband soon we started walking towards the cathedral, but a short time later, we were stopped by the unusual sight of crowds and lots of policemen. When we made some inquiry we had learned that the city was considered to the 20th Catholic World Youth Summit! It is fine we thought, it definitely means a good event with fancy fair and the evening Mass, on which we can not participate, and so naively we went on and headed to the shopping street. But after a few steps we had to adapt to the surging crowd. The whole maze reminded us as if we were in a rock concert, young people were hoping mad and singing, the only difference was the audience: priests, monks and nuns in their uniforms from different denominations. I think because they had already been excited enough of the thought that they would meet the Pope personally. Later walking in the street became more and more difficult and finally we found ourselves among some Brazilian chatolics. It also meant that we had been trapped because there was no way out. We couldn’t go neither forward nor backward. What a bad luck I thought and I started to worry how could we manage to meet my husband at the subway station at 12 o’clock?

My daughter suggested: “Mom we need to get out of here somehow, otherwise we would avoid to meet father” – And then something happened a woman who was standing next to us turned into green and silently fainted. My teenage girl who had participated in some pop, rock concerts had already experienced similar situations so she acted routinely and shouted lustily in German: “Somebody help! There is a woman on the pavement”. Instead of God, a policeman showed up, and we were released behind on the heels of paramedics they cleared the way immediately. Meanwhile the victim was exported on a stretcher in the ambulance care we could also escape from the crowd.

So where to go now? We asked each others helplessly, after we recovered from the not nice experience. – “Look for a safe place and wait there for father, proposed my daughter. It was a wise advice, and we acted according to that. Meanwhile we were waiting for him we killed the time studying the nuns, monks, and their loose behaviors. We saw Spanish nuns, who were clinging to a rope in the fear of not losing each other. Then Italian nuns, who were jumping up and down rhythmically with excitement, in the hope of that soon the Pope will deploy front of them. Later we were crashed into a Hawaiian priest’s chest, a 38-40 year old man, who seemed to be in complet despair, as it turned out later he was swept away from his flock. He came from Waikiki and did not know what to do. I reassured him that Cologne is not a big city to not find his fellows. From then on, he persisted in our side.

Meanwhile my husband was still trapped in the airport. He let us know by SMS that he had already arrived a half an hour ago, but stuck in the airport which would be closed until of the pope’s leaving it and not a soul was allowed to go in or out until he resides there.

At 12.25 a great roar shook the square of the cathedral. We immediately knew that only the appearence of the pope can provoke such an ardour. A few minutes later came another message (not from the pope, but from my husband), that finally the exits had been opened and we did not believe that, but in about 5 minutes later we had found each other. We wanted to rush to the car, but the police formed a cordon and did not allow anyone to change its place until the pope walked around the square in his bulletproof capsule (the pope mobil). The mass hysteria outbroke, a few nuns wept, Negro groups sang gospel “I will follow him wherever He may go” … and then suddenly there was a great silence because the pope’s mobil appeared in the curves. Yes, it was him, Papa Razzi as he was called jokingly by the German press. Meanwhile the pope approached us very slowly I recalled the memory of my religious grandparents, my grandmother, who always dreamed of that one day she could pilgrimage to Rome in order to see the Pope but instead she got a rosary from us from Rome. Then the distance between us and the pope became less and less. Only 200 meters left then 100, then the holy man stood before us in life-sized and we could look through his capsule. His hair was as white as snow, his ivory white festive dress matched to it and a giant gold cross was hanging around his neck. He looked astonishing. And the air around him flowed endless peace and harmony, joy, spiritual peace and contentment. And then miracle happened, he glanced at us with a kind, loving smile, raised his hand and blessed us! After 10 minutes we were released by the police and could reach our car.

In one thing I am certain,  this year I’m not going to meet anyone in Madrid, specially not in the mids of August !

Some datas

History of the World Youth Day dates back to 1986. At the initiative of Pope John Paul the II was the first meeting in Rome. Since then, every three years two meetings will be held. In Cologne in 2005, 1.200 000 young people attended the closing Mass and 7,000 journalists. It was also known that as Joseph Alois Ratzinger now Pope Benedict’s XVI was his first public appearance in the Catholic world. In 2008, the meeting was in Toronto this year will be held in Madrid.

The Pope’s 2005 apostolic journey in Germany

In January of 2005 Pope John Paul II died, in April  the new pope was inaugurated, the German-born Ratzinger, chose the name Benedict XVI th (this name was chosen because St. Benedict was Europe’s patron saint. Another argument is that  he wants to continue Pope Benedict XV’s footsteps in his peace project. Benedict XVI th is the eight German pope in history. The last German pope was pope Adrian VI nearly 500 years ago.

Dying for the era of Diana

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To the memory of Lady Diana Spencer who would be 50 on 1st of July

The obsession with celebrity that led to her death also defined the era she lived in

SHE DIED FOR A BLURRY PICTURE, a pointless snap from a speeding motorcycle that might have appeared on an inside spread of Hello! or Paris Match or some other glossy of no consequence.

It is unfair to the real Diana Spencer, by all accounts a nice person who used her fame well, that her death so symbolizes the emptiness of celebrity worship, the false faith of the end of the 20th century. Dodging tabloid photographers, she was doing her bit not just to preserve some privacy but to hold back forces that she helped unleash-forces of media intrusion that will now be subjected to an unprecedented backlash. In a twisted way, she died in the line of duty, not to country but to the age she came to represent. Historians are likely to judge that Diana’s reign she did owed its brilliance to the tranquility of the times. With no global wars or cataclysm no Hitler or Churchill to dominate the public realm, we could turn our full attention to diversion of gossip and fantasy. We now routinely view image and spectacle as large with meaning with old-fashioned substance suddenly the boring trifle. The irony is that with the end of her short life. Di may well achieve a political goal more substantial than of all but a few politicians. The shock of her death is being likened to the Kennedy assassination in 1963. Clearly the analogy seems overdrawn their forever young influences on popular culture notwithstanding. Diana wasn’t president and her death leaves no creative vacuum like that on Elvis Presley or John Lennon. But just as Kennedy memorial was the civil rights act Diana s could be ratification of a treaty banning land mines, not just in Britain but in the USA where skeptical senators may now have to contend with a new public groundswell. This could yet yield for her reputation as a first-rank humanitarian as well as immortal icon of style. If Helen of Troy was the face that launched a thousand ships, Lady Di launched at least a thousand of covers, and hundreds of millions of newspaper and magazine sales. In the 16 years since her marriage she became not only the most famous woman in the world but the only personality who consistently sold big in the global marketplace. While paparazzis are not a new phenomenon Di as prey took the game to a new level. Instead of 3 or 4 photographers trailing a celebrity it could in her case be 30 or 40, each hoping for that six-figure shot. This created a strange and perhaps emblematic protocol of coverage: the president of France can stroll down the Champs-Elysées undisturbed: a divorced ex-royal couldn’t leave a restaurant without a high speed chase. Di came to understand that the tabloids were simultaneously the bane of her existence and the source of her strength. In the recent years she not only developed working relationships with tabloid editors but learned to exploit publicity for her cause, be it skewering Charles or raising money for charity. One reason for her popularity was that the public essentially shared her spurgle-and purgle attitude toward celebrity news. Readers buy it and bemoan it without fully confronting the contradictions. They want to inspect the clay feet of their heros-then cry for the head of the sculptor. Will this global hypocrisy market still work as it always has? In the short run, only a foolish publication would pay for gory pictures of the accident. To do so would risk a boycott. The more difficult question is whether Diana s death might change the tabloid culture permanently. In recent years with global news proliferating photographers have gone from being a minor annoyance that came with the territory of fame to being a major source of anxiety for public figures. As their private loathing of the press boils over publicly, it will likely find a ready audience among millions already fed up with the news media-any new medium. The distinction between tabloids and so-called respectable news org will be difficult to uphold in the recriminations that lie ahead, and for good reason. If there had been no accident and the motorcycle paparazzi in the Paris tunnel had obtained a good shoot of Di and Dodi kissing, most of the world s newspapers would have checked over the price paid for first rights to the shot-then published it themselves.

Ultimately nothing much can change because media coverage is the oxygen of modern public life. Watch as celebrityhood is transmogrified into secular sainthood, courtesy of a publicity machine that will turn even its own remorse into just another story. Perhaps that’s appropriate, for it is the mighty communications culture that made Diana and shapes the world she left. The princess will never be queen, but maybe the titles don’t mean much. The England in which she lived will never be remembered as Elizabethan. It will be The Di Era.

 So sad she had to die for it.

after by J. Altar

Roman recipe dictionary

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If there is only one vegetable Rome is known for it is the carciofo- the artichoke. The classic Roman preparation, the carciofo romana. It is made from the large, globe-shaped artichokes and they are stuffed with wild mint and garlic, then braised in the owen. For the excellent Roman-Jewish version is the carciofo alla guida. That artichoke version is the best from the young artichokes that are deep-fried until become crispy and leathery brown in color.

Bucatini alla matriciana

Spaghetti with red sauce a spicy rich and complex dish that owes its flavour to an important ingredient the guanciale, the pig’s cheek. The sauce is made of crushed tomatoes and red pepper flakes. It is served over bucatini, a kind of pasta (spaghetti like) and topped with grated pecorino romano cheese.

Coda alla vaccinara (stewed oxtail with lard and celery)

Oxtail in the style of slaughter house. The sweet and sour dish is made from oxtails stewed with tomatoes and wine, seasoned with garlic, cinnamon, pancetta and myriad other flavouring. The stew is cooked for a day or even two, then finished with the sweet and sour element raisins or bittersweet chocolate. Served over polenta or pasta

Rigatoni con la pajata (macaroni with calf’s intestine)

Rigatoni con la Pajata in Italian is Rigatoni con la Pagliata, is a classic dish of the Roman Cuisine. The dish can still be found in some traditional trattorias in Rome. Pajata is the term for the intestines of an “un-weaned” calf only fed on its mother’s milk. The intestines are cleaned and skinned, but the chyme is left inside. The preparation the intestine is cut in pieces 20 – 25 cm long, which are bond together with white thread, forming rings. When cooked, the combination of heat and the enzyme rennet in the intestines coagulates the chyme and creates a sort of thick, creamy, cheese-like sauce. These rings can be served simply seasoned and grilled (pajata arrosto) or in the traditional roman dish in which pajata is stewed in a typical tomato sauce and served with Rigatoni

Trippa alla romana (tripe) dishes regarded in the past as suitable for those doing heavy manual work and which today continue to be appreciated in the numerous family-run trattorias.

This dish is made of  beef honeycomb tripe cook with extra-virgin olive oil, onion, carrots, celery,  garlic , dry white wine, and can of whole tomatoes.

preparation: Cook the tripe covered about 4 hours (tripe will have a pungent aroma while simmering).  Meanwhile steam the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic in wine, adding tomatoe can with its  juice to the sauce. Finally flavour with mint and sprinkled with finely grated Pecorino Romano and additional chopped fresh mint.