I’m Hungarian & Not for Wienerschnitzel

I recently discovered that Hungary is more than just a country east of Germany; it is part of my heritage.  I mean this in the least offensive way possible, but the country was always a joke to me.  Not because of the country itself, just its name.  Ever since I discovered the country of Hungary in my elementary school history lessons, one of my favorite things to tell my parents was, “I’m Hungarian” when I wanted food.  Ok, so I still say it.

Though I have strong ties to my primarily Irish roots, I was also raised with undertones of German ancestry.  My Great-Grandma emigrated from a Germany port in her mother’s womb.  With her, she brought what we thought to be traditional German customs and recipes.  Guess what?  They weren’t German.  After spending years trying to track down her family in German records, I recently joined forces with a distant cousin who had documents to prove that my stomach is not just Hungarian; the rest of me is too.  At least the part that I thought was German is.

Because the borders were altered by a bloody game of tug of war, I find the genealogy hunt increasing in intrigue and possibilities.  Their region, which may have once been German territory, had also been Austria-Hungary, Yugoslavia and now Slovakia.  Never did I imagine that the strong stock came from Eastern European hardships as opposed to Hamburg bratwursts.  I realize these clichés are not realistic and likely inappropriate, but they simply provide an altering mental image of what I had imagined as a little girl and what is now more realistic.

I’ll never be able to ask those ancestors what life was actually like.  I’ll never get to ask if they yearned for their homeland and its customs.  Instead, I know that they came to America for safety amongst the turmoil in pre-World War I Europe.  They learned English and adapted to American ways, but privately maintained the nuances of their heritage.  They were bakers, potters and laborers.  We still are, even if laboring is the only one that pays the bills these days.  I never guessed that my little joke that got a giggle out of my Mom, had truth in it.

It’s Ash Wednesday, So I’m Catholic

Today is Ash Wednesday, so I feel guilty.  No, I feel guilty because I’m Catholic.  Well, yes, but technically, I feel guilty because I’m Catholic, it’s Ash Wednesday and the last time I went to Church was…yeah, I’m not sure.  Can this count as confession? Well, because I haven’t done that in a few years either.

I actually consider myself a religious person because I do pray outside of traditional places of worship.  I do have faith.  I also have a Bible in my nightstand drawer.  I know what you’re thinking; so do cheap motels.  This is true; I forgot to tell you I live in one of those too.  I’m kidding, but now I feel guilty for lying to you too.  Will this day never end?!

I do pray though and I’m also attempting to refrain from adding the “God” part to the beginning of “Damn it!”.  I feel like the phrase hurls itself from my lips each time I try to attempt moving anything with my hands, as my klutzy nature presents itself quite often.  In regards to faith though, I think I have spirituality, but I also don’t live by a lot of the Church rules.  I’m not sure if that is supposed to negate my Catholicism but I don’t mean anything personal to God or the Catholic religion as a whole.  I’d like to think that since forgiveness is a key element in religion, the Pope would give me 10 Hail Mary’s for my lack of physical attendance to Church and not send me H-E-double hockey sticks.

We live in a predominantly Catholic region and there are several Churches in our area.  I googled them and picked one to get my Ashes this evening.  I grew up fairly close, but I don’t have a connection to the Churches I’ve attended as a child, as many things have changed over time.  But as a typical Catholic, I picked one with a full mass so it counts as my “dues” for the week too.  Although I’m a bit rebellious and I don’t like being told what to do, I went because I felt like I wanted to tonight.  I also felt refreshed that the Priest did not give a spiel about how the congregation was full of people who only partake in religion on Holy Days.  Instead, he spoke about the meaning of Lent and admitted some personal faults of his own, and how he has decided to take Lent as an opportunity to better himself and treat others as a Christian should.  He spoke as one of the people, relatable.

Even better, I also got to finally workout tonight; lunge (aka genuflect), sit, stand, kneel, stand, shake, kneel, take a lap, kneel, stand, etc.

In all honestly though, I would be interested in incorporating religious activity into my life, even if it isn’t based on my Catholic background, but just as long as there is some sort of genuine connection felt.   Whether I actually attended the mass or not, I am glad that I took a moment to reflect on the start of Lent and I’m taking good things from this moving forward.  I won’t attempt to promise I’ll attend regularly, because I don’t know that I will, even if my intentions are good; but I will continue to be the best person I can be and that’s definitely something I won’t feel guilty about.

Picture courtesy of tipakan.com

An Ode to Past Presidents

In remembrance of past and important Presidents in our US history, I had a beer. Ok, I had a couple beers, but I didn’t celebrate with John’s cousin Sam Adams.

Yards Brewing Company in Philadelphia makes a fine selection of beer, but my favorites are amongst the Ales of the Revolution. We first tried these at City Tavern in the Old City section of Philadelphia, where a replica of a past tavern now stands. Our Founding Fathers sought an ale and political banter at the old City Tavern before and during the country’s quest for Independence and they have appropriately served original and historic recipes brewed and re-mastered down the road by the Yards Brewery

Though I could’ve sworn I remembered an Alexander Hamilton brew in years past, the current selections of Revolutionary choices are as follows:

    The Poor Richard’s obviously represents traditional ale by Benjamin Franklin, who was not a President, but a Founding Father none the less.  This is my personal favorite. There is no doubt that his mind led to the formation of not only the United States, and thus American Presidents but also many of the institutions that still hold functional and historic places in our lives today.

    In addition to keeping the recipes traditional, Yards even finds their location to be relatively close to actual historic precedence: Our new brewery is located just blocks away from the site of Robert Hare’s brewery, where Washington’s favorite Philadelphia Porter was crafted.

    These are not your standard and typical beer selections.  Beer connoisseurs will appreciate not only the original recipes and unique ingredients that are traditional to the late 1700’s, but the flavors that rival consistent micro-brews. You’ll also find flavors that you would never find in the watered-down light beers, but this is true with all of Yard’s selections.

    If you’re in the Tri-State area and have a chance to either stop by City Tavern for a sampler or find the variety pack option at one of the local liquor shops, I highly suggest liberating yourself.