Every now and then I get a pressing appetite for something "from home." I imagine Eva and I at the small table in grandma's kitchen, our small feet dangling down without touching the floor, our faces plastered to the mosquito net that separates us from the world. The kitchen was very small but it had a large, glorious window that always stayed open, summers and winters, rain or hail. There was always cooking being done, so the stove was always on, keeping the small quarters warm and cozy. Winters, as we sat by the open window chewing on our toast with zacusca or apricot jam, there was a thrilling mixture of heat and cold, and with the draft from the occasionally opening door the air danced around us playfully as we sat there, without a care in the world.
So food "from home" reminds me of those careless times. The time when I didn't have to think about bills and jobs and money and filling out forms, and calling customer service ten times a day. My heart races every time I find labels in Cyrillic on food containers or see names like "Halva" or "Ljutenica." I take it as a personal accomplishment, like I'm a member of an exclusive club, and among the endless aisles of bottles of dressing and smoothie packets I've found the coat of arms of my coterie. It's hard to be alone in this, though. I'd love to have someone around who knows what "zacusca" is and how sublime it is. Also, someone who knows the proper way to eat crepes and who doesn't make remarks like "this would go great with ketchup."
And yet. There are still opportunities to appreciate ethnic foods properly. I found a jar of Hungarian letcho at the international market and this completely made my day. I couldn't wait to get home and taste it! I ran some orange lights and cut pedestrians off, I was in such a hurry. I never get this excited about sales at Victoria's Secret. Is this normal?
Letcho is a stew made of gogosari, a variety of red peppers that's exceptionally sweet and that looks a lot like a bubble skirt. So much so that in Romania the bubble skirt is called "gogosar skirt." Letcho goes really well with eggs, of course, and it makes a great breakfast. If you ever see it in an ethnic food store or an international market type place, don't pass it up.
As always, don't forget your greens!
Letcho with eggs
~ serves 2
1 cup letcho
fresh kale leaves
Heat up the letcho in a non-stick pan. When it starts to bubble, break the eggs and throw them in. Cook, stirring frequently for a few minutes until the eggs are cooked. Serve hot with fresh vegetables.