It was yet again the beginning of one of our long video conference meetings in the so-called steam room, just imagine 15-20 people in a small closed space on the sunny side of the building and you will understand what I mean. A common thing with these meetings is that the equipment is broken or not set up each time when a conference is scheduled. So there was the complete team waiting for the hardware to be adjusted in order for the boring presentation to start about some software which we are forced to use.
During this waiting period, I was chit chatting with my Hungarian colleagues when the topic suddenly changed to dentists. One of my colleagues mentioned his preference to eat the “tejbegriz” after a session in the terror chair and at this remark everyone’s eyes lit up.
It is very interesting to notice that, even if adults have a difficult time remembering most of their childhood time, one memory which never fades away is their favorite meals as a kid. I can even remember the cooking process of my favorite dishes… evenings spent in the kitchen, listening to the radio, handing the ingredients to my mom, watching from a small stool next to the window how my mom prepared dinner for us.
The “tejbegriz” is one of the dishes which I remember earliest from my times spent in the kindergarten. At this place, breakfast included either the “tejbegriz” (a very bad version of it) or chopped bread in milk, our lunch was usually some unidentifiable liquid and for snack we had only 4 pieces of dry biscuits. So we were very anxious for my mom to pick us up and take us home for a proper meal.
Back in those days, supplies were handed out monthly to families in portions. At the beginning of each month, my mom would go out at 5 o’clock in the morning stand in the line until 7 o’clock when the store opened. In these conditions, at the end of the month we were always short on the good stuff. Luckily one liter of milk was given daily so popular dinner possibilities were the “tejbegriz”, semolina porridge, “tejberizs”, rice pudding, or maize porridge in milk and this time the good version thanks to my mom’s cooking abilities.
Topping choices for the “tejbegriz” were endless: cocoa powder, cinnamon with sugar and even the jam made by my mother every year.
Eating the “tejbegriz” was a completely different story. As every child being hungry all the time, we couldn’t wait to taste it but, being freshly made and hot, we managed to burn our tongue most of the time. My mom taught us a trick for this problem though, eating the porridge in the form of a snake starting from the plate’s outside border towards its inner center made it easily edible as soon as the dish was taken off the stow.
So returning to the conference room after such a wonderful recollection, me and my colleagues only needed this tiny hint to organize a lunch together the next day and cook this dish ourselves. After many years of missing out on “tejbegriz”, I have finally tasted it again and it was as delicious as I remembered it to be. If you saw Ratatouille and remember the scene where Ego is amazed by the ratatouille dish, bringing back memories of his mother’s cooking… well, that’s how I felt.
Other childhood delicacies:
- Maize porridge with milk or cheese
- Cheese macaroni
- Bread with lard and onion
- Bread toasted on the stow
- Egg yolk beaten with sugar
- “Amerikai palacsinta” – waffles with chocolate pudding