Lajos grew into a determined, popular and gregarious young man and he developed a passion for business and good food which was shaped and influenced by his adoptive family and by the various twists and turns his life had taken.
Lajos fell in love with and married my grandmother Altje, and they had five children who often helped in the chocolate shops and delicatessens after school. When World War II broke out, Lajos was imprisoned by the Nazis, leaving Altje and the children to run the businesses. Against all odds, Lajos survived and after the war, the family migrated to Australia, for a new life that began in Newcastle, NSW.
Lajos and Altje bought another delicatessen and built the business up over a number of years, introducing Novocastrians to a world of new flavours. When they were in their sixties, they sold the deli, and bought a farm near the Central Coast of NSW where they kept chickens, pigs and dairy cows, among orchards of mandarins, lemons and oranges. The farm was a wonderful playground for a tribe of cousins, which included my sisters and me. A typical Sunday saw the entire family gathered for lunch that always included freshly killed roast chickens and garden vegetables, accompanied by lots of rowdy, but good humoured discussion on current events, mostly in Dutch and Hungarian.
The paddock-to-table philosophy was alive and well, and I have vivid memories of arriving at the farm to see a number of freshly killed, soon to be eaten chickens hanging upside down from the clothes line, draining before cooking. The strong smell of wet, hot feathers hanging in the air is with me still.
The dairy cows, who came when called by name, would gather at the fence to nuzzle and lick our hands, making us giggle. My grandmother made her own butter, yoghurt and cheese and we always had mountains of fresh cream and milk on hand for baking her cakes and puddings. As kids, we loved staying overnight at the farm because breakfast always included porridge that was made with the fresh milk and cream that had been hand milked earlier that morning.
These are great family memories and I feel fortunate to have been exposed to such a fundamental appreciation and love of fresh food and cooking. The recipe for Lajos’ Roast Chicken is as comforting as one of his great big warm hugs, and features his all-time favourite spice, cinnamon. I have also included a Strawberry Soup recipe, another family favourite that works well after the richness of the chicken.
|Lajos' Roast Chicken|