Bucharest goulash, invented by a Bulgarian woman in 2011 and presented as an authentic Romanian dish. Bonus: a plagiarized recipe that has nothing to do with reality

Await, in the column* what else do foreigners write about Romanian food in books sold on the Internet and which promise local gastronomy from the title, we have a special case, which I still haven't had time to write about. Here are some recipes that I would really try, but hardly or not at all frequented in our kitchens, either domestic or restaurant: Bucharest Hotpot or Bucharest goulash as the author calls it and a soup/soup of goulis with apples that comes out of the comfort zone of the Banatians or the Saxons (in fact, in the case of apple soups, the Hungarian tradition is also often mentioned), which we know use a lot of fruit in their savory dishes.

The food & cooking of Romania & Bulgaria Ingredients and traditions in over 65 recipes with 300 photographs by Silvena Johan Lauta also known as Silvena Rowe.

Who is the author:

Bulgarian-born Silvena Johan Lauta is an expert in the cuisines of Eastern and Central Europe. Her passion for food stems from her early experience running a family restaurant in Bulgaria, as well as working in a restaurant in the old USSR. She is the culinary brains behind The Baltic restaurant in London. She has worked as a recipe consultant for Marks & Spencer and was recently the food consultant on David Cronenberg's feature film, Eastern Promises. She appears regularly on television and has written for many newspapers and magazines (source: amazon.co.uk).

He has also published books on Central and Eastern European, Hungarian and Baltic gastronomy.

The book is undeniably different from many in this series: claimed author and resume, custom photos, great typography, and plenty of factual information. Although from the title it would appear at least a parity of the recipes when divided by country (we also note the courtesy of being mentioned first) the author draws the sponge on the cake of her country and presents many more recipes from south of the Danube (for some of them she also mentions the variants Romanian).

Today I will limit myself to the soup chapter. In total we have 8. One more Turkish (lentil and apricot), tarator (emblematic for Bulgarians, different from the Ottoman version), goulii, apple and cumin soup (Romanian, I'll come back), bean soup (I quote: it's almost a national food in Bulgaria), Bulgarian periwinkle soup, pork soup with cabbage and cumin (Romanian), Bucharest goulash (easy to understand) and lamb/mutton soup (also Bulgarian). Geographical indications belong to the author.

As far as I'm concerned, it's the first time I've heard of cucumber, apple and cumin soup. I know of apple (or other fruit) soups specific to Banat and Transylvania, but also Saxons and Hungarians, but it seems that most of them are derived from the beer/wine/bread soups of old. Anyway, this soup has nothing to do with the Banat custom of eating compote steaks (in the classic sense of the word, without other additions of vegetables).

My dismay is even greater because I found the same recipe (with only one change, in that the latter also contains a bit of flour) in the book All Along the Danube by Marina Polvay (1979) which I wrote is more in the realm of the fantastic than the real, and which shoves all kinds of ocean fish, Alaskan crabs and other northern fish down the throats of traditional cuisine. At the moment, I am missing from my library some titles about Romanian gastronomy written in English (especially by Romanians) and which could be the primary source of this soup. I mention that in Savory Romanian Dishes and Choice Wines appeared in 1939 there is nothing like it, not even in The Romanian Cook Book (1951) nor in Taste of Romania (1997) and in Paul Kovi's volume Transylvanian Cuisine we find an apple soup (küküllőmenti almaleves) but which contains apples, lemon juice, a little salt, cinnamon, cloves, lemon slices, fruity white wine, egg yolks, cream, sugar (optional) and parsley. I note that the last two books cited appeared after print All along the Danube.

The only conclusion I can have at this moment of the research is that the author from Bulgaria was inspired by Mariana Polvay's book without checking the reality on the ground. However, taking into account the fact that the volume I'm talking about appeared in 2011, I think that the verification of the information was at hand.

My second dilemma regarding the soups in this book concerns the Bucharest Hotpot or Bucharest Goulash as the author calls it. It is a thick soup containing: beef stock, chickpeas, grated potatoes and carrots, Swiss chard leaves, smoked sausage (with the specification that the Polish ones are good) salt and pepper. In the introduction of the recipe it is mentioned that chickpeas – the primary ingredient – can be replaced with any type of beans or other grains. I would eat, but I would ask all the people of Bucharest (and not only) what they think about this capital goulash that confused me a bit.

*actually on my fb page where I have a series

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