THERE is nothing like what Grandma used to make when it comes to eating or finding someone who knows the recipe to stir those memories. Passing on family recipes was just as important as a woman having a dowry or hope chest. Recipes were provided by the elder women of the family to a new bride looking to carry on family traditions. In today’s world of fast food and microwaves, the family favorites have become a lost art.
“Her recipes are now four generations strong,” said Mike. “She came over on the boat through Ellis Island carrying my grandfather who was two years old at the time. My great-grandparents, Julianna “Csabai” Chubboy and her husband, Louis settled south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They came from a real small coal mining town called Veszprem, Hungary. And her recipes, including that stuffed cabbage everyone likes so well, were handed down to grandmother.”
Mike’s grandfather fought with General Pershing in Mexico, chasing Pancho Villa. By the time WWI started the generals didn’t want to let him fight. Eventually it was decided to let him go as a chef. After the war they settled back in Pittsburg.
“My dad also became Army,” said Mike. “My mother loved my father so much she learned how to read the recipes. They were written in Hungarian and she did not know the language. My mother cooked chicken paprikash for the French Astronaut Society and for the ambassadors in Greece and Turkey. She taught me the recipes handed down from generation to generation.”
Mike met his lovely wife, Brigitta in Florida where he owned his one import/export furniture company. Brigitta had just flown in from Romania and stepped into the company looking for a job. When Mike spoke back to her in Hungarian, she made fun of him which sparked his attention. She moved back to Hungary and the couple Skyped each other for months until he asked her to marry him. He moved back 30 miles from the town his great-grandparents came from and started their family. She made floral arrangements; he stayed with exporting furniture until the market went down. It was then the couple did a market search and moved to Colorado and loved it until again the market took another turn.
The family sold their house and moved to Kilgore partly due to the location of the town being between Dallas and Shreveport. Mike thought it would be a good place for selling LED signs and a good place to obtain better education for their children. To them, education in the United States was a very important decision made early on for their children, Robert Michael and Greta. The children were enrolled in the Sabine school district.
Naturally, Grandma’s recipes came with them and tried out on newly-made friends in the area. “Brigi and I experimented with great-grandma’s recipes adding what we thought was needed,” said Mike. “What a mess I created. The original taste was so lost. We called it our litmus test and we discovered the distinctive taste of grandma’s recipes was not worth deviating from. It is exact to formulation. Our friends began asking us to open a restaurant, but we were not sure about it. Then we heard Kilgore was holding an Oktoberfest and I went into the Chamber of Commerce to ask about it. That was on a Thursday and they signed us up. The Oktoberfest was on Saturday. They gave us limited time to prepare for it, but Brigi and I showed up and people gave us e-mail addresses wanting to know when the restaurant would be open.”Brigitta’s Hungarian Restaurant opened in 2017 and serves grandma’s original recipes.
“We don’t even deviate from the Hungarian paprika used in all her recipes,” said Mike as he gave a hint of the ingredients in the recipes. “Everything we have here has paprika in it. Grandma literally cooked everything in spices. I use about 2.2 lbs. per week and I order it in from Hungary by the kilo. It is kept in a cool and dark place to obtain its richness.” To eliminate deviating from the recipe, he has one spoon used to measure just the right amount of spices to each entre.
“I like to think grandmother is right here looking over everything I cook,” said Mike. “If not, I at least want to give her the honor.”
Just like grandmother used to make it – not American cuisine but it will definitely add the “Mmmm good” to your taste buds.
Brigitta’s is located at 202 Hwy. 31 East, Kilgore, Texas.
IF you have seen a bunch of gals going in and out of the business lately, that is your Kilgore Chamber of Commerce ambassadors at work and at play making a fun time of getting to know you. Be prepared; they love to snap pictures and let their locations be known. If you have not met the new Chamber President/CEO Jill McCartney, try to catch her in the office. She has a delightful personality and determined to make Kilgore her home.
OH, HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED – Kassy Paris, our Liberty City author/teacher posted the following rules for teachers on Face book recently. Keep in mind the twelve rules were written in 1914: 1. You will not marry during the term of your contract. 2. You are not to keep company with men. 3. You must be home between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. 4. You must not loiter downtown near the ice cream stores. 5. You may not travel outside the city limits unless you have permission of the chairman of the school board. 6. You may not ride in a carriage or automobile with a man unless it is your father or brother. 7. You may not smoke. 8. You may not dress in bright colors. 9. You may under no circumstances dye your hair. 10. You must wear at least 2 petticoats. 11. Your dresses may not be any shorter than 2 inches above the ankles. 12. You must scrub the floor once a day, clean the blackboards once a day and in start the fire at 7 a.m. so the school will be warm by 8a.m. Grandma did it.
May His Love and Laughter Fill Your Hearts and Your Homes Throughout the Week. In the meantime, we may be reached at email@example.com.