Waiting for my bogrács…

16.9 liters of Hungarian, enamel kettle for the making of goulash…

I am waiting for my bogrács.

According to my NTC’s Hungarian and English Dictionary, bogrács means: « stew-pot or kettle . » This ‘kettle’ was used in the past to make ‘gulyásleves’ or goulash soup. Growing up, I knew nothing about this kettle. I also knew nothing of goulash. I had heard of it, but I didn’t really know what it was as for whatever reason, I never heard my family use the terminology in Hungarian. We had a soup which I later found out was gulyásleves, and we had it all the time. I mean, if you are Hungarian, how can you make soup without paprika? We also had stew all the time and I later found out it was also gulyás. So here I was having it all the time and didn’t even know it.

To do a little word research, one finds that the ‘gulya’ is the herd and the ‘gulyás’ is the herdsman. The herdsman in Hungary travelled around with the animals and obviously needed to eat from time to time. Hence the bogrács, a kettle on a tripod that was used to cook the stew or soup, out of doors, in a camping situation. Several years ago, we went to the Hungarian Festival in Norridge and they feature a goulash cook off with multi-stations of kettles on tripods where people make their best goulash.

Goulash is a seriously important staple found on menus all over Germany, Austria, and of course, Hungary. When I tasted it in Germany, I fell in love with it all over again, although it was slightly different from what I remember. Our goulash had no ‘fire,’ no heat, in terms of spicing. I took the ‘stew’ that I was accustomed to making and added some heat via hot Szeged paprika. I have since come up with the stew and the amount of heat that is to my liking.

Of course, foodies that we are, we decided that we want to make it authentically out of doors. One of our sons has a huge fire pit in his backyard and well, I recently went on Ebay and picked up a tripod for outdoor cooking. It can be used with a cast iron Dutch oven it is so sturdy. The bogrács I finally found is over 16 liters and is in the Hungarian standard enamel that is generally used. It has a particular shape as well. I found it on Ebay and it came from Budapest.

We are in for an interesting experience and we have some new family camping equipment. Our family has taken all of the equipment and put it together for use. Highland Park may never be the same. We will make some gulyásleves and we will have zsíros kenyér (grease bread)! Yes, the bogrács did arrive and we are all set to go.

Posted in Camping, Food, foodie, Hungarian, Hungarian cuisine, Hungary, Life in general, Thoughts and philosophy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cars, Technology, Beaters, and Malbors

For years I have noticed something I never noticed growing up, a parade of vehicles, cars, that all look good. Living on the North Shore, that is a way of life. I remember growing up and seeing expensive cars and then, well, the rusted out beaters. What is a beater? Is that a thing of the past or is it just that I am very sheltered where I live. It is not uncommon to see the most common car around, a Tesla, each and every day. I have been seeing Maseratis more than once and a good Porsche, Ferrari, or Corvette is not uncommon. What is uncommon is to see me driving something other than a Subaru. Of late, I even wonder if I will ever have a car with some better Technololgy or even, maybe a sunroof. Mind you, I am not complaining, but I realize that so many vehicles are just out of my reach.

The cars are my first thought of the day. Maga is number two. MK noticed the sign next to the door on the nasty neighbor to the south. I actually saw the lesser than human being just yesterday as I was pushing the less than an inch of snow off the driveway. I think he actually fled into the house seeing me. He seems a little healthier than he has been as he is able to do a few things outside. One day, I overheard the grunt-gasping sounds he was making as he was attempting to be without his oxygen support. Apparently the oxygen presence is highly embarrassing to him. It is so interesting to me that his behavior and abusive behavior to his supposed loved ones and his neighbors doesn’t seem to phase him. As with our new Freedom Medal of Honor winner, Rush Limbaugh, perhaps he should use his terminal status to work on his legacy and perhaps repent a bit. In either case, it is just not going to happen.

Anyway, Mary Kay looked at the sign and wondered if it were saying ‘Make America Great Again.’ Yes, Mary Kay, it is. My malbor is a man who will only buy American and I am sure that part of his problem with me is that I buy ‘foreign’ cars. For years, I only bought American and, to be honest, they were not the best cars I have had. So far, that prize is taken by Isuzu and Subaru.

The people to our south have a Ford and a Lincoln. I wonder how many parts of those cars are from the United States. Interesting as well that although the two of them travel almost nowhere, the cars are behemoths of SUVs that spend their time in and out of the garage and driveway, and are washed almost every week.

I guess that those two must be awfully happy with the life they have made and are enjoying the ‘Great America’ that they live in.

Posted in Cars, Isuzu, Life in general, Malbor, Malbors, Subaru, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

‘Sunday Evening’ with Zlatomir

Playwright, Zachary Karabashliev on the left – Director, Zlatomir Moldovanski on the right

Sometimes you just have to get out of that box. We did so by deciding to see our first Bulgarian play: Sunday Evening, written by Zachary Karabashliev and directed by someone we know, Zlatomir Moldovanski. Zlatomir is an actor and now involved in directing and teaching as well and was a Chicago Fellow of the Stratford Festival. Recently, in 2018, we did a showing of one of the Shakespeare films that Stratford has done, this one of Romeo and Juliet. Zlatomir was an actor in the play and film.

We like to support the theatre as we can as we have a European connection via our interest in culture and language and our teaching of them both. We know how much easier it is for the common guy to access the Arts in Europe and since it is not in our own country, it is all the more important to do what we can to promote them.

When we found out that Zlatomir was directing a play, we checked it out and got tickets. We also contacted him to see if we could take him out to dinner and he, being the consummate professional actor and gentleman said he could do so. We met in the city at 6:15 PM in a local pub and then went to the Greenhouse Theater. It was the inaugural production of Zlatomir’s Rose Valley Theatre Group.

The play is a Bulgarian Award winning play (Askeer for Best New Bulgarian Play) and the only production of it before this one was in Bulgaria itself. As Zlatomir put it in the playbill, « …Zachary’s gripping story and characters strikingly transcend any international divide one may expect in a play like this. Their struggles, turmoils, and triumphs are simply unequivocally human. » We found that all to be true as the plot and storyline were that of human beings living their lives, navigating their crises, and trying to work through them.

The cast featured:
Maria Margaglione as Stella
Rachel Sepiashvili as Rose
Logan Hulick as Nick
Melanie McNulty as Jenny
Whitney Pipes as cop and theatre director
Grant Johnson as cop
Jordan Kulow as waiter and locksmith

The play immediately engaged the audience in the intimate setting of the theatre and you immediately felt the pain of the lives of the people acting on stage. Lives in turmoil and real emotions interspersed with intensely serious moments and yet others of comedic significance. It was a thoroughly enjoyable one hour and fifty minutes of play split by a fifteen minute intermission.

Zlatomir and company did a great job and he is already working on getting another Bulgarian play to present. We had a great evening, starting out with seeing a great actor who is branching out into other areas. We were thankful to have had the opportunity to have dinner with him and to have him sit next to us as we enjoyed a great evening of theatre in Chicago.

Posted in Chicago Associates of the Stratford Festival, Greenhouse Theater, Life in general, Magura Cultural Center, Rose Valley Theatre, Theatre, Thoughts and philosophy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Last night as I was enjoying some delicious Brazilian coffee, I kept thinking about a favorite chocolate of mine, Toblerone. Toblerone is Swiss and a favorite of mine. MK doesn’t have the same love for it, but I suppose that we just cannot all be the same.

The coffee I was drinking was Brazilian. Just the other day, ESL sessions at Oakton started up again, as they always do, in the 3rd week of the semester. Just as we were finishing up and I was headed off to do the French Conversation hour in another location, Elis stopped by to tell me that she was taking a class at Oakton and that, unfortunately, it conflicted with Conversation Hour. She had a little bag for me, a souvenir of her recent time visiting relatives home in Brazil over the Christmas break. Frankly, I cannot remember when I have had Brazilian coffee, but if this is indicative of what it is like, OMG!

While I was drinking it, sipping it, a habit I got from the recent times when I could not drink coffee, pretty much at all, I kept thinking of chocolate. I remembered that we had some chocolate in the china cabinet and that it was Toblerone. What better, right?

It was a perfect combination, the delicious, full bodied, yet medium flavor of the coffee from Brazil and the milk chocolate flavors of the Swiss candy, made with honey and almond nougat. I only had two small pieces of the candy, very little and I don’t know how I avoided more, but for whatever reason, that amount satisfied me.

Coffee and chocolate, the perfect combo, right? Then there is red wine and chocolate, but don’t get me started.

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Kirk Douglas, francophile?

Go Blue! The fève to put in our French Galette des Rois, meant to cheer on the French soccer team.

As Mary Kay said, « I was gobsmacked. » I was on Facebook and the American Association of Teachers of French put a post on in which they revealed Kirk Douglas, who passed away at 103 years of age the other day, was an ardent Francophile and even spoke French. I didn’t really believe it and so there I was, in my car awaiting movement so I could pick up my prescriptions from Walgreen’s, listening to Kirk Douglas on YouTube speaking French to a French news personality. It blew me away.

That was a nice bit of news and a far cry from the national news in which our President, otherwise known as the King of Liars, was railing at the Democrats in the aftermath of impeachment and in his ‘acquittal’ only due to the partisanship of the Republican Senate in which only one Senator, Mitt Romney, broke with his party and opted for reason and honesty. Then there is the head of the Democratic National Committee who is railing against the Democrats. Instead of attempting to rally the forces to actually defeat what I deem to be an enemy of the people, the Democratsare doing their utmost to meet the needs of the left leaning part of the party and forget that first, they must defeat the tyrant.

…and tyrant he is and how he can be viewed otherwise is totally beyond me.

I spent a lazy day, doing my routine exercises, heading out the door to do a quick shovel of, as it turns out, only a small layer of snow that melted anyway. I then enjoyed breakfast and coffee and took the dog to grooming at 1:00 PM and hit the gym.

It is cold, but nice and apparently Antarctica has registered the warmest temps ever…where are we headed?

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