Date: Sun, 8 Apr 2001 22:35:06 -0700
Subject: transylvanian gulyas
2 tbs paprika
dash of cumin
pork, cubed for stew
1 green pepper
sauerkraut, in bottle or can, whatever
cup of sourcream
3 tbs all purpose flour
starts kinda the same as the hungarian one: onion, garlic chopped, then cooked in oil until transparent. then add paprika, cumin, stir till melted. throw in the pork, brown. chop up the tomatoes and green pepper
talked to romania yesterday. iren just got out of hospital, had another heart attack. everybody is panicking cause the landlord appealed the decision and they are due in court again on the 24th. he is trying to evict them again. melinda is doubly panicking cause she has not been able to pay the water, electricity and gas bills for some months and they want to cut all services off this coming week. they were supposed to have received some help from some kind of new social service crap, some person actually came to see them, but of course, the help never came. so now she has to pay 1,000,000 lei or so, which to them is a lot of money, about 45 bucks. she says if it is cut off there is no way on earth they will ever reinstall it. and the landlord will use this against her, she thinks.
other than that, janoska and mihaly junior got busted begging. again. but they have no choice but to beg cause they are starving... as i said, the promised gov't help never arrived. melinda says, i guess they spent it on the floods. romania had some bad flooding in that area. and who cares about gypsies anyways. gyuszika came on the phone too. he sounds sad and scared. they are hungry, he tells me they are hungry.
throw in the tomatoes and the pepper with some salt and cover, let simmer for, i dunno, 40 minutes, until pork cooked and tender. in the meanwhile rinse the sauerkraut, not too much so as to leave a bit of tang.
i am feeling really bad cause i can't help, i just don't have any money to send. and i feel guilty too cause i am the one who redirected the 10 bucksaweek to the grandfather, and melinda's family now really is hurting. but i had to do what i did, cause there is not enough to do both. i gotta try to keep katika in school, that's a positive thing. i had to make a choice. i hate to have had to do this. melinda even ran up the hill to the reverend noemi with the unitilities bill but of course the good reverend said no way. the milk of christian kindness prevails.
all i could tell melinda is for them, all three families, to right away on monday go see proeropa, istvan haller. he said to do that, if the landlord appeals. he said that he would help them in court. so i have to count on that. i wrote him an email yesterday, just to remind him, in case he forgot.
then throw the sauerkraut in the pot too. cover, simmer for another 30 minutes or until kraut too is cooked. in the meanwhile, put the flour in the sourcream and stir a whole lot, so it ain't lumpy.
i had talked to grandfather about a halfhour earlier. i try to call every two weeks or so, you know, so they know i am not abandoning them. i promised i wouldn't.
grandfather says the waterpipes are rusted out in the bathroom and there is no faucet. i can't right now, i said, really. he said oh, don't worry, we have been having baths in a bucket so far, we can continue with the bucket. don't you worry.
myself, i think he asked for that, oh, i know there is no faucet, but myself i think he asked for that cause he too is worried about melinda and the kids. and if i could have sent something he would have given it to her. oh, he would not say so to me, cause he thinks i am angry with them. but i am not angry with them. i just had to make a choice i feel bad about.
then we talked about janoska, who is still crying. but also, who is walking off into the streets way too much. and him such a little kid. and that too is my fault. cause, you know, i showed him something he never had. and he would like more. and there is none, over there.
so then grandfather said i will send katika over and get her to bring him here, so you can talk to him. it would make him so happy, he said. call back in an hour, they should be here by then.
so i said, okay. that's when i called melinda, just cause i am worried, you know. about them, too. melinda ain't the smartest person sometimes but i still really like her. i like all those people, a whole lot. i dunno why that is. i feel at home with them, somehow. i guess it's cause everything they are, and feel, is always right there, on the surface. always no bullshit, all there to see. you know, i don't get along too well with anglos, i really don't. i live among them, i speak their language, in fact i know more english words that hungarian ones... but i don't really speak their language, i don't. i always always know that, inside. that i am not... them. that they are always... them. even my friends. them.
when i called back, after the hour, there was janoska. but first, mihalyka. he came too. he made me really happy, he did. he said he is learning to read, that he has decided and is doing it. the reverend-noemi, who was going to teach him still is in the middle of renovations and thus cannot - or so she says - so instead, he is actually applying himself in school, in the crappy "helping school" where no one learns, he is learning. teaching himself, he is. to read! so that was great. after all my talks with him, a little window. he is a good kid, that one.
and then he said, zsoka. zsoka is my hungarian name, i think you know that, don't you. he said, zsoka. we're very hungry. what's gonna happen, he said.
then there was janoska. so when are we going to canada, that's janoska. i can't janoska, i can't. that's what i said, i can't. cause i can't, you see, some realities *are* dawning on me, surprise. okay, but then you're gonna be here soon, aren't you, i mean summer, soon. i am not sure, janoska, i am not sure. i'm trying, i said. so then he says, if you don't come, i'm going to kick this whole house to smithereens. i started laughing. so then i got serious. janoska, will you promise me something. i'm gonna go with you to canada, he said. no, janoska, promise me something. okay, he said. promise me that you will stop wandering the streets, i said. will you promise. he said, okay. i promise.
it's no good, this promise, i know. but what the hell.
now put the sourcream mixture into the pot and stir well. add more salt to taste and let cook through for ten minutes or so on very low heat.
i feel bad, but you know that. i would like to do some more things, i mean, some of what i did is working out good, a kid now learning, some security, some food. but i also did some damage, though it couldn't be helped. i mean, i may have damaged janoska, cause now he's really unhappy. it may be bad to show people, you know, something else. something else, than what they know already. not just him, but also the other kids. who now truly have nothing. less than nothing cause i took something away.
okay, it's ready. serve with good bread, wine optional.
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