When I was a child, we lived with my grandmother on my father’s side in the same house for 14 years: she lived downstairs, and we lived in the attic so I would spend a lot of time with her, when I wouldn’t feed animals with our neighbour, Aunt Maca.
We would play Hungarian cards a lot, which would be our favourite activity. For some unknown reason my favourite card was “acorn under knave”, so the goal of the game was to acquire this certain card, instead of winning. Sometimes we would study German, her mother’s tongue, long before I got to school.
‘Das ist der Tisch. Das ist der Ofen.’, I would repeat and it gave me a basic knowledge when I finally would start learning German at school.
Later, when I already learnt how to read, my other favourite activity became reading my grandmother’s old book about etiquette. Tibor Tihanyi, a piarist teacher’s book was published in 1940 with the title “Helyesen és szépen” which means “Properly and nicely”.
My grandmother would keep it in the living room, next to the telephone, as she would feel necessary to keep it at hand. Obviously she wouldn’t give it to me by chance, and I would enthusiastically read it aloud, then stop after each chapter in order to discuss the rules.
It has been already 6 years, since my grandmother passed away. Sometimes I like browsing through her stuff. Suddenly I find the old German language book, and the etiquette book. I open it and its smell reminds me my childhood.
It is a really hot, summer day and I think this old book calls for a nice, old-fashioned home-made ice-cream, based on a recipe from 1934, to which the author refers as “basic” recipe.
I would like to have something old and something new, so I decide to add a hint of lavender flower to the vanilla ice-cream, something, what the author – I am sure- would never do. I replace an ice-cream machine by a little bit of extra work and patience. The result is a really creamy, smooth ice-cream, with a hint of lavender flavour which makes a perfect fit to the apricot I got from a dear friend, Ili.
Book excerpt from “Properly and nicely” written by Tibor Tihanyi
“Listen to me, my dear girl! I would like to whisper small, but important secrets to you. I am sure, you will be interested. If you listen to me, I will tell you how you can become a nice, generous, loveworthy person.
You can be honest, beautiful and talented. You can get excellent grades at school and 3-4 certificates. It is not enough. You need to polish your manner, so other people will find you likeable. This is the only way to succeed in life. This way you will be an attractive personality at home, among people, at your workplace. And then- when it is God’s will- you will be a wife surrounded by noble love, and a mother caressing the soul.
You will hear from me the rules of an educated, beautiful life. These are patient, tame rules. If they are not followed, neither conscience screams, nor will anybody be brought to court. Normally, nobody would ever mention these omissions, however they would take it bad. And one day, you would wake up, and realise that people don’t love you and they try to avoid you and leave you alone. If something went wrong in your life. Your struggles, your honesty and goodwill are useless.
Let’s prevent any trouble, my dear girl! Let us smooth your soul, and your whole essence. Listen to the good words, and you will see how welcomed and loved you will be.
Let this be the reward for my little piece of writing and your attention.”
(to be continued)
Textiles I use for photography are hand-woven and botanical dyed, made by @textil_szakacsniki
Lavender-vanilla ice cream
based on a recipe by Mrs. Sándor Hevesi, from 1934
250 ml milk
500 ml cream
250 g sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon dried lavender flower
Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, add to the milk and bring it to boil. Boil water in another pan wide enough to fit a heatproof mixing bowl on top. Beat the egg yolk over the simmering water, until you get a creamy consistency. Add sugar, then milk, while stirring continously. Finally fold in the lavender and let it cool down. Strain egg mixture through a fine sieve, discard lavender. Whisk cream until stiff peaks form and fold in the cream. Pour it into a 1.5 litre capacity container and freeze it. In the first couple of hours stir it properly every 20-30 minutes in order to get a creamy, smooth ice cream.