Thursday, September 20, 2012

Paprikas VS Goulash

When my new roommate moved in, she brought with her a tub of paprikas. I'd never heard of paprikas before, so I was very happy to give it a try. Basically, it reminded me of chicken and dumplings - only chicken and dumplings. No vegetables. The sauce was delicious, and the dumplings were good (much like my own mother's homemade), but cut a little too big for my personal tastes (also often like my mother's homemade). 

Naturally, after enjoying a few nice lunches of leftover paprikas, I looked it up in the internet. My first stop was Wikipedia, which redirected me to "goulash." Interesting. The paprikas in my fridge was nothing like the goulash my mother made as I was growing up. So I kept digging. 

It turns out that goulash is one of those terms that actually doesn't mean anything terribly specific, like stew or ramen. Goulash started in Hungary, then spread, obviously, to the rest of the world. Consequently, it also changed, hence a million different kinds of goulash. The basic ingredients, however, are meat, noodles, vegetables - particularly potatoes - and paprika. The original word guly├ís means "herdsman," and I'm guessing these ingredients are something that herdsmen would have have had handy while they were, you know, herding. If you want to see the dozens of varieties, just scroll down Wikipedia's entry. I want to try every single one.

Goulash is not typically made with chicken, nor is it thickened. That's all paprikas, or chicken paprikas, to be most specific. The recipe on Recipes Wiki that I found includes tomatoes, something I am used to from my mother's goulash, but was distinctly lacking from the paprikas in my fridge. I can only conclude both goulash and paprikas are whatever you want to make them, like soup or stew. Take the basic ingredients and make it your own. My favorite way of cooking!

Incidentally, my mother's goulash recipe is something along these lines: cooked macaroni, ground beef or turkey, canned tomatoes, and a bit of brown sugar to sweeten it up. There may be more involved in the sauce than tomatoes. Maybe she just used the spiced canned tomatoes. It has been many years since I had it. I once had some while I was sick with the flu, which was a terrible mistake. I haven't eaten goulash since.

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