The second installment of The Paprika Trilogy written by Marc Fitten takes time to get through- what with having to take frequent breaks to curb the cravings for all of the wonderful food that the story dances around. The recipe for the linzar cookies above came from the author and they are lovely. But what I really want is some chicken paprika: succulent, savory, satiating…if it weren’t 1000 degrees outside I would call forth my inner Hungarian peasant (from thin air) and just wing it. Maybe in a few months…
At any rate, Elza’s Kitchen is a tale of a woman who is running aground on the fumes of her life. She is a restauranteur, a capitalist “success,” in a small Hungarian town nearly recovered from the trauma of communism where ambitions for a “success” seem to matter a lot. And yet, and yet…the plat du jour can not hold. Living is easy in the capitalist dream world, life – not so much. It’s a lonely chase.
“He had never been her confidant. She hadn’t even tried to fake intimacy.”
Naturally, once things start spinning out of control, the shear messy swirl of it is impressive. Why do things half way? The restaurant business is particularly attuned to spinning messy swirls…don’t even get me started.
But in the end, Elza, doesn’t need to change her mise en place so much as her own expectations, her own ambition. She thought the missing ingredient in her life was glory, but authenticity is the only true path to self-fulfillment. The rest is bullshit.
If she sticks to what makes her satisfied, then a sort of contentment is possible. That’s the theory, at least. But I say, if that fails, a linzar cookie is a little sweet to take away a little of the bitterness.
The first in this series was Valeria’s Last Stand. Each of Fitten’s tales are a rowdy… recipe, told with humor and spice, of all our keenest hungers: love, self-worth, and…well, the next book will tell – the pièce de résistance!
Jó étvágyat! (Bon appétit!)