(Edited from the Introduction to The Living Kitchen)
I grew up on Hungarian food, which mostly consisted of different parts of the pig, and I have undergone a long journey from then to now, where I welcome customers to my vegetarian restaurant which serves organic food full of life. Yet my memories from my childhood are all positive. It is true I had to stand in a long queue every morning in communist Romania for milk and bread. But, on the other hand, everything was home-made because the food shops were empty. So food – especially because it was made by Omama (Granny) – was delicious.
My relationship to simple food that is grown and cooked with love, my belief in living and cooking without waste, the feeling of harmony and gratefulness for everything that I have, are only a small part of the inheritance of my childhood. The rest you will find in my stories and you will eat through the recipes in this book.
It is not possible to create new recipes. All recipes are ancient ones that are created anew and changed a little. Cookbooks are only inspiration and suggestion. You are invited to take the recipes offered in my book, change them, add to them and make them your own.
Through food we unite. If you cook according to the recipes in this book I will be present in your kitchen. I experience this as a great honour. This is the reason why every person who would like a recipe from my restaurant receives it. That is exactly how this book began.
Writing a book is a very exciting process. However, even more important is the meeting between the book and the people who read it. My absolute aim with the book was to touch you on such a deep level, through putting many pictures of my life in front of you, that you will want to ‘eat’ me! And that means you want to cook from this book and eat the food. Sharing your cooking with other people will make me even happier! If on your festive dinner table there are a few dishes from my living kitchen, then I feel that I am sharing that moment with all of you.
Manager and chef at Harduf’s Restaurant and author of The Living Kitchen