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For my own information, and anyone elses that might be interested in the history of this delectable dish. Nothing is cast in stone and I realize there will be many blind folk, such as I, feeling this or that part of the elephant and seeing something quite differant. And so ---
I did check out my copy of Larousse Gastronomique. Granted, they are French, but they are incredible researchers.
They say on pp. 518 - A Hungarian beef soup named after the keepers of Magyar oxen (gulyas). The origin of this dish, which is now made with onions and paprika and garnished with potatoes, dates back to the 9th century, before the foundation of the Hungarian state, when the nomadic tribes prepared a meal that was in keeping with their way of life. At that time it consisted of chunks of meat stewed slowly till the liquid completely boiled away. The meat was then dried in the sun and could be used later to prepare a stew or soup, by boiling it up in water.
Traditionally, goulasch is made in a special cauldron (bogracs).
There are a number of regional variants according to the cut of beef and the cooking fat used (pork fat or lard), but purists agree that goulasch should not include flour or wine, nor should soured (dairy sour) cream be added just before serving. Hungarians regard Viennese Goulasch as a flour thickened version of genuine goulasch soup; in Hungary the latter is sometimes served with potatoes and csipetke (small quenelles of egg pasta, poached in stock).
In "George Lang's Cuisine of Hungary" on pp. 270 he states The four pillars of Hungarian cooking are gulyas, porkolt, paprikas and tokany.
He further states that according to a 1969 gallup poll, goulasch was one of the most popular dishes on the American scene but - what is served under this name shouldn't happen to anyone. The origin of the soup can be traced back to the 9th century - shepherds cut the meat into cubes, cooked it with onion in a heavy iron kettle (bogracs) and slowly stewed this dish till all the liquid had evaporated. They dried the remnants in the sun (probably in their sheepskin capes) *typists note, he said sheepskin, for whatever that may or may not mean. He further added that they put the meat in a bag made of a sheeps stomach. Whenever they wanted food, they took out a piece of the dried meat, added some water and reheated it. With a lot of liquid it became a gulasch soup (gulyasleves); if less liquid was added it became gulyas meat (gulyashus). Even today this distinction exists, probably to mystify foreigners and foreign cookbook writers.
The more parts of beef and beef innards are used, the better the gulyas will be. Of course, lard and bacon (either one or both) and chopped onion are absolute musts, just as you will find they are in the other 3 dishes. *Typists note; I will look into these other 3 at a another time. Never use any flour. Never use any other spices save caraway. Never frenchify it with wine. Never Germanize it with brown sauce. Never put in any other garniture save diced potatoes or galuskka (egg dumplings). But many variations are possible-you may use fresh tomatoes or tomato puree, garlic, sliced green peppers, hot cherry peppers to make it very spicy etc. A Mrs. Mariska Visvary added grated raw potatoes at the beginning, presumably to give the sauce more body. On pp. 275 Mr. Lang provides a recipe for Mutton Gulyas. More on that later.
Further Mr. Lang states under variations; There are many variations even on the basic ingredients. Some people use different types of meat, including pork, veal and sausages. Others add other vegetables besides potatoes such as carrots, green beans, kohlrabi etc. Another variation is that instead of adding tomatoes and peppers there is a staple that many Hungarians keep in their kitchen; it is called a lekso which contains lard, onion, peppers, tomatoes and seasoning and is cooked for about 20 minutes. A recipe for this is on pp. 315.
One of my favorite cookbooks which is "The Old World Kitchen" by Elizabeth Luard. I find on pp⅜ within a recipe for Paprika Soup with Dumplings some more pertinant information. She says all that is above in the other two books about the initial gulyas but states further that these nomads took over the Danube basin and once they were settled down they still kept their cooking pot but added those other ingredients that only cultivation and settled habits could provide; the domestic pig for the bacon and the kitchen patch for the rest. The primitive stew evolved into a rich aromatic feast whose ingredients always included beef (both meat and innards), paprika, lard or bacon, and onions. There are plenty of optional additions of which caraway is the most usual. She says, further, that if you want a creamy stew, make a paprikas or a tokany. Reasearch - Mary Riemerman Submitted By MARY RIEMERMAN On 11-14-95