Originally published May 17, 1984
A Hungarian love affair begins and ends with food. In between, while the wooing continues, innumerable snacks are consumed. Indeed, a date with a Hungarian literally means a nibble. Somehow, Hungarians seem to get hungrier and hungrier as they fall deeper and deeper in love, and when the inevitable breakup occurs only one cure is recognized for a broken heart - a huge meal. it is rather like an Irish wake, and can last as long as the sad memories linger or until sufficient strength has been recovered to start a new affair.
Luckily Hungarian cooking does not require any costly one-purpose utensils or odd pots that would not be found in any well-stocked kitchen. With a few vital exceptions, there are no special techniques for Hungarian cooking either. The commonsense rules, like adding hot - even boiling - stock to a simmer pot of stew or soup, or beating whipped cream ice cold, still apply.
A Hungarian meal is unthinkable without wine, be it Hungarian or not. An old Hungarian toast wishes - “wine, wheat, peace, and a beautiful woman for a wife” - in that order, make no mistake about it.