My usual procedure is to write as soon as possible. I try for a report that’s authentic in its immediacy, even as I sometimes admit ignorance on some matters. Sometimes I may struggle a bit, but I never put myself to bed before I’ve put my review to bed.
But this one’s different.
I’ve been going to Gourmet Schnitzel House for months now. No wait, let’s make that a couple of years.
I let Paul & Mari into my life gradually. It started with dinner. And then, it would become a regular thing, as every now and then we’d go there for dinner. Then I started using the take out menu, to grab something on the way home. If I called to order the House Schnitzel that was easily prepared before I got there. They’re in Scarborough, not far from my home, so it works beautifully. The Goulash Soup or a Cabbage Roll order doesn’t require quite as long, as they warm it up.
And now I realize that I’ve tried everything on their menu, and continue relying on them, particularly on those days when I come home late.
I was pondering this matter of expertise as I considered writing this. I’m no food critic, although I’ve written a couple of pieces appreciating places where I’ve eaten. Hungarian food, however, is the one tiny corner of the hospitality realm where I might dare to believe I know something.
In fact this is the sort of expertise that Paul & Mari confront regularly: the Magyars, whether exiled Europeans or second & third generation Canadians, walking in hoping to find the taste of “home”.
I’ve been to a lot of Hungarian restaurants. There are many ways to conjure a sense of authenticity. It could be the music, the décor, and yes, the tiny matter of what’s on the plate.
The one intangible –or unexpected surprise—in all this is the ease with which Mari & Paul produce their wonderful little menu. You call Paul or Mari as you come home, bringing home perhaps a Goulash Soup, or a House Schnitzel, or a Chicken Paprikas with dumplings & sour cream… Sometimes it’s time to relax, which means eating in, having a beer with dinner, and finishing with the Palacsinta (a Hungarian crêpe): and by the way I can’t recall anyone doing this quite so perfectly, reminding me of, you guessed it, my Mom’s Palacsinta.
There’s only one, and it’s in Scarborough.