My dad’s side of the family is Hungarian, and his mother was very interested in socializing my brother and I to appreciate our roots. Part of my grandmother’s efforts to connect us to our Hungarian background came through food. She made us dishes that reflected her Hungarian-ness, and was always very emotional about whether or not we finished everything on our plates – even though technically she was a horrible cook. She would often say to me “Tonikam, if you loved me you would eat all your creamed spinach.” Which was fucking gross by they way. But I did it because she was one hell of a guilt tripper.
For some reason there was always a lot of boiled pork that she served us. At least I think it was boiled. Because it was tasteless and impossible to chew. Come to think of it, I am not sure she had the best handle on the cuisine of her beloved culture.
So one day my brother and I were eating lunch at her house, but I was in a hurry to leave, but also giving my brother a ride. As I got my things together, my brother was stuffing meat in his mouth so as not to upset my grandmother. We got in the car and were chatting, and I realized after 15 minutes when dropping him off that he was still chewing.
Toni: What are you chewing on?
My brother Laszlo: Pork.
Toni: Dude you are still working on that pork?
My brother Laszlo: Well I was storing some of it here in my upper cheek. I figure I have enough for the train ride home to keep me occupied.
I know up in heaven my grandmother is reading this and saying to herself “what a good Hungarian boy… enjoying his pork like that.”
Fast-forward 15 years. I invite my brother for dinner to have some soup with The Munch and me.
Toni: I have soup for us, so just be here by 6.
My brother Laszlo: Well, mom has some pretty questionable chicken in her fridge, so I think I will bring that too.
Toni: You know, there really is no need to bring any “questionable” chicken over here.
My brother Laszlo: Yeah. I think I am going to do it anyway.
So my brother shows up with a giant tupperware of chicken. And when I say giant, I mean enough to fit 3 whole chickens. And the chicken was swimming in a mash of garlic and chicken fat. Just huge blobs of jelly all over the chicken.
My brother Laszlo: I am just going to have to pull all the meat off the bones for a minute… and make sure I scoop up all the fat here. Do you want some?
Toni: I think I am good.
After about 25 minutes of de-boning the chicken, he then brings this massive place outside. Full of carcass, and covered in fat.
Munch: I want some chicken too Uncle Laszlo.
My brother Laszlo: Of course you do! Because you are a good Hungarian girl! Here let me make sure it’s covered in fat for you.
And then The Munch and my brother proceed to shovel chicken and chicken fat into their faces with their bare hands.