Updated: Mar 3, 2022
The first-ever Super Bowl game took place on January 15, 1967 and kicked off what has now become a yearly phenomenon in American football.
Today 55 years later Superbowl LXI is back in Los Angeles, and it led me to thinking about my mom and how she was Vince Lombardi’s biggest fan, not just a fan of the team but the coach too! This started another tradition in our family, and another reason for a festive meal. Superbowl and great food. I remember the first gathering was mostly a family affair and everybody contributed to the food. We had chips and dips, kid and adult beverages in abundance, throughout the game, but the main course was a family favorite: Chicken Paprikash!
And the Packers won.
Let me provide a little background.
When I was a kid all our grandparents were from the old country, you remember, from over there, and most of them arrived through Ellis Island. Some more recently than others. My relatives arrived between1904 and 1906. Grandma from Hungary and
grandpa from Austria and they managed to find each other in the melting pot of New York City. So, when Mary Buchwald and John Rodman married there were nine brothers and sisters all told who migrated to Cleveland and finally settling in the Akron area. Some to farm, some to build bricks, and some to build tires like my grandfather who worked at Goodyear. Ford was just beginning the Model T and the need for tires grew rapidly. Long hours in the factory meant hearty food for supper. We seemed to have supper on weekdays, but it was always a family dinner on Sunday. We did not have the Ancestry register back then to explain our lineage, we simply lived it at
every family get together. So much of my heritage stories concerned food. Real food, hearty food, with artery clogging sauces back when that was to be expected. All of my relatives would gather in the kitchen to cook or tell stories about food, who made the best roast, or remember the time when Easter dinner was burned but still delicious? and talk about where this or that recipe came from. Especially all the little tricks everyone remembered that added so much flavor, always cut up your chicken this way, don’t waste anything, use what you have in the pantry, make sure you always have a can of bacon fat on the back of the stove.
Then someone would exclaim WOW aren’t these gas ranges with griddles in the middle great for catching all the renderings. In doing my research for this story, I found this picture of a stove exactly like the one when I was 8 years old, I had forgotten about the dual ovens and the two broiler drawers on the bottom. Life was simpler then, and you could cook so much more stuff. I even remember on Thanksgiving we had 2 turkeys to feed everybody. One of the best traditions occurred after the meal, usually with coffee and a sponge cake baked just for this occasion. It was for company after all. My best memory was of everybody sitting around the big dining room table telling the latest gossip about people who were absent. Making sure the younger generation was aware of our background, a sort of who’s who of the family, or sometimes a rouges gallery. Some of those better traditions were all the wonderful Hungarian recipes; Chicken Paprikash, Sauerkraut and Pork stew, and of course Hungarian Goulash. Paprika was in everything adding a red color and the sweet pepper taste would keep getting redder as the peppers got hotter.
My favorite was Aunt Christina’s Chicken Paprikash with the home-made dumplings that she would let me drop into the boiling water because she knew I loved them. I fondly remember driving over to Neven Street on special Sundays, standing in the kitchen still dressed in my suit from church, forming each one with a tablespoon, dropping them in and watching them boil, then taking each one out as soon as they start to float so as not to overcook them.
Sometimes on special occasions, especially when grandpa’s side of the family showed up, he would bring out his childhood classic, an Austrian specialty called Bloodwurst.
It is made with pork and incorporates animal blood, fat, and meats. Since this blood sausage is typically cooked, it has a firm consistency and is commonly enjoyed as an appetizer alongside other cold cuts. Mashed potatoes, and usually some beets for good measure. It is also called Head Cheese, and no, it does not taste better than it looks. However, they would always enjoy a beer or two with it. All of my childhood friends seemed to be of Italian heritage and bragged about the mystical properties of spaghetti sauce made with real tomatoes, properly cooked pasta and especially the meat-a-ball’s. Some secret recipes even added a raw potato to remove the acid without having to add sugar.
Yet after trying my grandma’s paprikash I know some of my friends were becoming converts. I’m surprised we didn’t have some small food wars at recess! I can see the headline in the St. Martha's church bulletin now: Italians and Hungarians go to war over food. Is Hungarian Goulash, too much of a good thing?
Anybody who wants to be an honorary Hungarian while enjoying the Superbowl, just gather all your snacks and favorite beverages as usual, but if you want to give your favorite team that winning edge you should have Chicken Paprikash for dinner! It will give you the energy you need to cheer your team to victory. The more paprika the better.
And when they award the Vince Lombardi trophy, I know my mom will be remembering her favorite coach, heck she might even be sitting with him while they both look down.
So, I know you are now hungry and remembering your favorite dinners, stay tuned for the recipe link coming soon, because I was able to contact another long-lost cousin through the Ancestry registry and I will be posting some authentic family dishes, soon.
Thanks for reading.
Here are some more things you might enjoy
Thanks for reading!
Spice up your everyday cooking with a virtual visit to Kappabashi Street, which has been supplying Tokyo's restaurant industry for over a century. This
half-mile cookware destination is lined with 170 shops specializing in everything food related: handmade knives, ornate chopsticks, beautiful ceramics, niche restaurant supplies like plastic food samples, and more. Your host will share tips and tricks for cooking with the tools you find so you can make the most of your professional purchases.