Thursday, March 5, 2015

Having My Cake

That, my friends, is a slice of dobos torta, invented towards the end of the 19th century by Budapest pastry chef József Dobos. It's not exactly on my "approved" list of things to eat, since the cake layers - made individually, if you please, and never simply sliced from one large sponge cake - are made with flour (though easily made gluten-free by substituting a mix of ground almonds and rice flour) and the filling is made with chocolate buttercream (not easily made dairy-free, as one recipe I'm looking at calls for over two cups of butter) but sometimes, when you're sitting in the café connected to the Budapest Art Nouveau Museum drinking coffee and looking out at the rain, there's no other option but to eat a slice. I must be honest, however: it wasn't a very good slice of cake. A little dry, as if it had been sitting in the display window for a bit too long, and the buttercream could have been a nudge more to the bittersweet side, at least for my taste. Of course, it was competing with my memories of the dobos torta that my mother would make from a handed-down Kish family recipe, a cake I liked even better than the German chocolate cake I usually requested for my birthday. I'm not sure why I didn't request a dobos torta, or perhaps I did some years. I need to find a dairyless buttercream recipe.

And the coffee was pretty bad, watery and weak, as if the young woman behind the counter hadn't put any grounds into the cap of the espresso machine before turning it on.
So I won't be going back to that particular café, even for its eclectic range of furniture borrowed from the museum, because there are many other areas of Budapest I'd like to explore in the short time I have left here in Hungary. Cheese work has occupied much of my time, and freelance work much of the rest, but it would be silly to not see more of the city while I have a chance. My schedule is somewhat up in the air at this precise moment, as my Facebook friends will know; I'm waiting to see when I can be scheduled at the hospital at Székesfehérvár, the large town about 30 minutes' drive to the southwest, to have a polyp or stone removed from my gall bladder, or perhaps have the whole damn thing out. I'm not sure. As I don't speak Hungarian, I could possibly find myself part of a Monty Python organ donor sketch without realizing it, leaving my hovercraft completely full of - or entirely lacking in - eels.

Looking on the bright side of life, however, I'm in Hungary! And making cheese! And, as Noémi says, everything will be just fine. I'm over my initial panic at the thought of surgery in general, and surgery in a hospital in an area of Hungary where not many people speak English in particular, and now am just hoping that I can get in and out in time for my scheduled departure for Serbia on the 23rd. I haven't bought my bus ticket yet. Maybe I'll just float down the Danube to Belgrade.

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