From the second half of the 19th century, paprikash was an essential part of the festive diet in Hódmezővásárhely, which was then
„the favourite food of rich and poor alike.”
Here, they did not cook stew but paprikash, which was prepared in a different way. It is also typical of the area around Vásárhely that the paprikash cooked at the time of the pig slaughter was eaten cold in the following days.
The paprika cooked at this time is particularly tasty because it is possible to use many different parts of the animal. Thus, nails, hocks, heads, tails, skin, bones and meat can be used in the paprika, as well as liver, spleen, kidneys and marrow.
The paprikash was cooked by men, usually the farmer or the publican. They prepared the ingredients, cutting them into small pieces. The meat was put into a pot or a large saucepan, with the leaner parts underneath and the meatier parts on top. A layer of chopped onions was placed between the meat. Seasoned with salt, ground pepper, cumin seeds, and also with paprika. Water was poured over it – often the same water in which the meat was washed – and it was cooked. No fat was added, and according to Lajos Kiss, there used to be no onions either, which made it light and did not burden the stomach. The paprika should not be stirred, and after half boiling it was moved by shaking the pot so that it would not burn. If the juice ran out, it was replaced in the meantime. Towards the end of the cooking, the chopped liver was added, the marrow tied in gauze and finally the chopped peppers. The paprika juice was scooped into a small bowl, mixed with the paprika and poured back in.
At the pig’s feast, the paprikash was usually prepared for dinner, sometimes for lunch, and was eaten warm with pickles. The leftovers were put into small bowls and left to cool. On the day after the pig slaughter, the tasting dish sent to relatives and friends consisted of a bowl of cold paprikash and a piece of sausage or sausage. On the following days the paprika was eaten cold, mainly for breakfast and dinner.
In the 1940s, cold paprikash was even sold at the market in Hódmezővásárhely.
Mihály Herczeg wrote about the dish in his work Hódmezővásárhely’s peasant dishes:
“‘Cold pork paprikash is a real speciality of the town of Hódmezővásárhely. Whoever has not tasted it, does not know what it is good for!”
Cold paprikash is still eaten in Hódmezővásárhely, especially where families still slaughter pigs, but lovers of traditional flavours can also buy the ingredients from butchers. As the way of making and eating paprikash is different from the nationally known stew, it is worth preserving and preserving (as it was traditionally eaten without garnish, it can be incorporated into some new dietary trends, such as paleolithic diets).