Egészégére (Cheers) From the Village of Csókfalva

Perched on a bench drinking homemade cherry Palinka and a beer in a country village beside an old man that cannot speak a word of English. I watch the doings of thirty golden, black, white, and multi-colored chickens and a couple of roosters. Behind them, hibiscus flowers and loaded grapevines climb fences and five, prodigious swine feast on clover. The family maintains an extensive garden with beans, potatoes, corn, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc. and owns a hay pasture. They stock massive amounts of wood for their home’s wood burning stoves. There are two dogs, Furfe and Boobie, the old man shoos away for pestering me. Before, I had slipped them a crust of bread left from the dinner, so they expect something. Everyone else is out doing business. Thomas is helping the men moving materials into the church, Ebby, our hostess, is closing up her shop.

When they come home, Ebby prepares a lovely meal for us, although, Levente tells us the villagers do not understand vegetarianism. Levente says they require bacon and slabs of pork fat, extra calories for the hard day of farming. Of course we know, we get plenty of calories, but we do not argue. Their food is organic; they smoke all their own meats, make their own sausages, bread, palinka, and wine. Earlier, walked into a pantry full of shelves lined with jarred olives and pickles.

Ebby made vegetarian cabbage rolls for us, also a special blend of vegetables and yellow forest mushrooms, fried eggs with cheese, eggplant mash and of course tomatoes. Most of the others ate meat stuffed cabbages and mushrooms. We are offered palinka, with its high alcohol content, at breakfast. Previously, the partnership church warned us about alcohol poisoning, but we find it difficult to reject their hospitality. Clear palinka, and a type of cinnamon bread greeted us on arrival. Cherry palinka and beer at dinner, homemade wine before meeting another family for wine. Thomas said it was more than he usually drank in two months. On the walk home looking up at the stars and moon, he found himself wandering off the road. Fell asleep quickly.

In the morning we started again—Palinka. We toured the Csólkfalva church. On the front, Levente the former minister and our guide, had inscribed some words: You who travelfd up and down this road remember to stop, notice this church which is the beauty of the village. Look up and celebrate one God. Levente is very proud of the work he has done here. He showed us how the church had originally two doors, a low door for women, so they had to bow as they entered, and one standard sized doorway for men, so they could walk in proudly. To this day the men and women sit on opposite sides of the church. Inside, hand carved banisters, an organ restored by Levente, before having only wood pipes that were not functional, prayer books with embroidered covers.

Back at our hosts, Ebby pulled out artisan bread that had been baking in an outside oven. All of the large rounds are charred and the black part is beaten off with a short wooden baton, the crumbs are scattered on the ground for the chickens. The result, golden crusty bread with soft inside. We ate this as a mid-morning snack, with more Palinka, of course, while various villagers stopped by, the new minister and a large round man, with a face like the crusty bread, and a laugh like jam. The men have retired to his house for pre-lunch drinking. Levente explains that this drinking is not the usual, but in our honor. Thomas is toasted, and we haven’t even had lunch.

2 Responses to “Egészégére (Cheers) From the Village of Csókfalva”

  1. magp Says:

    You went through the regular door right?

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