This Little Hunky Went To Market
I am frequently being sent assorted pictures on email. Most of these come from my kids, who want to share a picture of some cute little animal or something. Even though they both are in their 20’s, they will forever be little girls at heart. Allow me to share the latest………..
“Nobuddee gunna pikkle deez feetz!”
Although I enjoy good ol’ Hunky cuisine, as a child growing up in a Slovak and Croatian environment, I have to admit that I was a picky eater. The truth is out. I used to give my mom a difficult time whenever I was asked to eat anything that was the least bit foreign to my palette. I had no problems with stuffed cabbage, kielbasa, perogies or any “normal” dishes. However, when it came to what I would term “bizarre” food, that’s where I drew the line. I mean, come on already! I was the kid who would hide uneaten tomato soup in his empty milk carton so Sister Emily wouldn’t catch me throwing it away. She knew I loved milk, so she never bothered to check my carton during lunch at the Holy Name cafeteria. At home, Mom’s way of dealing with my pickiness was to give me smaller portions of the things I’d turn my nose up at. Perhaps she did it in the hopes that I would “acquire” a taste for it OR perhaps she did it so I didn’t get my way. What ever the reason, I ended up trying it, gagging and then being sent up to my room. Fortunately, this didn’t happen often.
But seriously, let’s discuss the “dark side” of hunky cuisine. Let’s start with my little friend with the boots. Pig’s Feet!?! Seriously? I used to dread when my mom or dad would make it. The basement would be lined with shallow bowls of the stuff and slowly the clear liquid would begin to gel. Out of it would occasionally popped a pig’s toe or, God forbid, a stray stiff hair that somehow didn’t get plucked off of the foot! You couldn’t expect a kid to eat this stuff, could you? They used to sprinkle paprika on top of the concoction, which to me, only made it look more disgusting. Call me picky, but that stuff never passed my lips.
Then there was the oh so appetizing “blood pudding sausage.!” My dad LOVED this treat. Fortunately he knew when some things were futile, and so, he never asked my brother or I to try it. I looked it up on Wikipedia to gain a better understand of the components of the dish. I had this huge pang of guilt thinking I may have passed up one of hunky life’s simple pleasures by not eating it or even trying it. According to Wikipedia: “Black pudding or blood pudding is a type of sausage made by cooking blood or dried blood with a filler until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled. The dish exists in various cultures from Asia to America. Pig, cattle, sheep, duck and goat blood can also be used depending on different countries. In Europe, typical fillers include meat, fat, suet, bread, sweet potato, onion, chestnuts, barley, and oatmeal.” Needless to say, after considering a meal of cooked and congealed goat blood, chestnuts and suet, I decided my father was wise beyond his years in not attempting to make me eat that delight!
So let’s move on and discuss one of my favorite hunky foods…..PEROGIES. I loved them back then, and I love them now. Of course, as I was growing up, there were no such things as frozen perogies. They were always homemade. My mom never actually tried to make perogies from scratch, but either my aunts or a local church were always a great source for these treats. HOWEVER, for some reason, my dad and every one of his brothers and sisters insisted on serving perogies with what looked to be the most disgusting looking filling ever…… LAKVAR! Yuck. Lekvár is a very thick, sometimes coarse jam of pure ripened fruit. It doesn’t sound that bad, but let’s have a reality check here, does it look like a pile of prunes or a pile of _____ ???? You decide.
One of the staples in the hunky diet is soup. My mom made the most wonderful chicken soup, beef soup, bean soup and vegetable soup. Her soups were always very simple. I was familiar with every ingredient. The vegetables that she used were understandable to my young hunky mind. After she passed away, by dad stepped up to the plate and pulled out his innate culinary prowess. He was an exceptionally good cook. He never followed recipes and usually made up his own. He was amazing.
Dad’s soups were always a bit more complex and innovative than Mom’s. Even I, the pickiest hunky ever born, loved them… with a few exceptions. My issue was when my dad decided he needed to get in touch with his hunky “roots.” I’m not referring to his Slovakian heritage a’ la Alex Haley however. I’m talking about real ROOTS! Those things that grow underground. I could never be convinced to eat them. Carrots… I could do, potatoes…… no problem, onions….. not an issue. However, my dad would occasionally cross over to that dark side again and plop some grotesque underground anomalies into that cauldron of a soup pot. Parsnips, rutabaga and the ever mysterious kohlrabi would all be used at one time or another. I’m sorry, but I swear that you could boil those roots for hours and hours and still break a tooth on them. Seriously, were they REALLY that necessary?? I assure you that Rachael Ray would never use any of those ingredients in her Meals in 30 Minutes recipes!
Of course, you must know that I critique all of the above with the most loving of feelings for the culture they came from. I will always accept and embrace who I am and what Duquesne was all about. I am forever proud of my hunky heritage, ………it’s only the roots that are so hard to swallow!!
Later my friends!