The following is a folk-meal that was told to me by the lead pastor of my church. He is a non-denominational Christian pastor and is a caucasian male. I found out about this tradition of his when asking him about any folklore that his family may have had. We met at a local coffee shop in our town where I recorded the story. This is a direct transcribed script of what was said in the story, with the various “umm’s” and “uhh’s” omitted.
“My mom made goulash. This thing called goulash. Whenever I tell people what goulash is they look at me like they’ve never heard of it. Do you know what that is?”
Me: “I’ve never heard of it.”
“Nobody ever knows but that’s what she called it. She got the recipe from her mom, who got it from her mom. This is a dish, it’s like a pasta dish with noodles, meat, and cheese, and onions. Typically it would be seasoned a lot, I mean, a lot a lot. With paprika and other stuff. A lot of the time it was beef I think, but I don’t think it mattered too much what kind of meat. Oh, I think the vegetables were usually like tomatoes and something else. It’s always got a lot of red in it. Ya, it was a standard fair in my house.”
Me: “Is it from a country?”
“No, from what I know… that’s a great question, I’m trying to remember. She said it was… well, my mom’s side of the family is Irish so I think it came from Ireland, but I don’t know why goulash would come from Ireland, it sounds more Hungarian. But ya that was a dish that was passed down, and my wife now makes it. But it changes a little as we make it. My mom used to put onions in it, but my wife doesn’t put onions in hers so it has probably been adapted over the years.”
Me: “Is it just like a meal, or is it a special kind of meal that you eat at like thanksgiving or something?”
“Nope, it’s just a meal that we have. Oh and we have Chinese every Christmas Eve. [Name]’s family had Chinese Christmas Eve and I had never had Chinese Christmas Eve. That’s just what we do. (wow, that was a quick bonus folk-tradition there at the end, though it may have been stolen from A Christmas Story).”
The meal that my pastor told me about in this story is one that, like he assumed would happen, I had never heard of. This is another weird, without context folk thing that my pastor told me. A lot of the things he said he had a hard time coming up with why they did it, saying a lot “we just did, I didn’t ask why.” The recipe he gives is not very detailed but it does give enough to be compared to actual goulash recipes. On the whole, what he said was very similar, from the paprika and tomatoes to beef being the main meat. From what I gathered from the site allrecipes, goulash is a pasta dish as he said, but can also be served as a stew, among other things.
I thought it was interesting that his wife’s side of the family was Irish, but he didn’t think it would be Irish, he thought it would be Hungarian. It turns out, he was actually right on the money as goulash is typically a Hungarian dish. There are also dishes considered American goulash, which could also be the style that his family eats. It was also interesting to me that recipes do change so frequently. Even from his mother-in-law to his wife there was a drastic change in the recipe. Who knows how much this recipe may have changed in the past.