The instinct of giving and the recipe of “tócsi”

tócsi, Hungarian potato fries from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchenTócsi (pronunciation) is a dish in Hungary which is called in many ways depending on the region. Wikipedia mentions 35 different names and most probably it will cause a debate among people who come from different parts of the country which name is the original. It is a dish a bit like rösti but not really the same. It is made from raw grated potatoes, flour, salt and garlic, some people add some eggs or milk as well, but it is not necessary. It is not difficult to prepare at all and these are the ingredients that you always find in your pantry. It is simple but great. Why it popped into my mind right now? The reason is the garden.
Spring is absolutely beautiful here in the countryside. Maybe many of you are lucky enough to enjoy it every year but for me after 15 years living in big cities it is like a miracle. Early in the morning it is still chilly, I would say cold because I can see my breath. I would love to sit down on the stairs under the cherry tree with my morning coffee but I keep back myself, I still need to wait a few months more. The mountains of Bakony are covered partly by layers of fog and horses are not left out yet to the hills in front of our garden. Nature changes day by day, I discover a new flower or another tree just about to bloom.

spring in the Hungarian countrysideSpring in the Hungarian countryside Spring in the Hungarian countryside tócsi, Hungarian potato fries from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen

At the weekend it is the first time we need to mow the lawn. Áron is fighting with the sloping plot and the lawn mower while I push down some onion sets into our newly set up kitchen garden and some lavender into the flower bed just under our bedroom window. We stop for a chat with our neighbor, Tibor, who asks us whether we would like to have some canna plants which are high plants with beautiful red-orange flowers. They have more than they need and they would give us a bunch of them. In our village- he tells- it is a tradition that if you have some extra plants that you don’t need you only put it in front of your house and the ones who need them can take them. First of course they wanted to ask us. As living in cites for a long time I am not used to this friendly kindness, the natural gesture of giving, the old instinct of “I have enough, I will give you as well”. I am thinking of my Swabian grandmother who was born and grown up in this village and whose tulips and rosemary are decorating gardens of many friends and people who she knew. We will plant the cannas in front of a wall to hide it, it will be like a fence.
The Japanese quince is like a big rose bouquet, I cut off some twigs and put it into a vase.
Obviously I don’t feel like staying inside the house even not in the kitchen. So that is why tócsi pops up into my mind. Mami, my Swabian grandmother made it often, that is why I thought it is a Swabian speciality but later realized that is known all over Hungary and nobody knows its real origin. My grandmother grated the potatoes fine, I prefer it a little bit more roughly and fry it until it is crunchy. I already peeled the potatoes, I only need to grate them so I go over to my other neighbor, Ani to buy some farm sour cream. I only need a small jar for the two of us. I ask what I need to pay, but Ani shakes her head. “Nothing really! Just make a good tócsi!”

Tócsi
Ingredients for 4 people:
600 g potatoes
4 cloves of garlic
4 pinches of salt
40 g flour
sunflower oil for frying

Grate the potatoes, add the pressed garlic, the flour and salt and mix it well. Heat oil in a frying pan and put spoonfuls of potato mix into it when it is hot enough. Push it a bit to give it a shape and fry both sides until golden brown. Lay a plate with kitchen towels and put them on it when ready to absorb extra oil. Serve it with sour cream or greek yoghurt.

tócsi, Hungarian potato fries from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen tócsi, Hungarian potato fries from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen tócsi, Hungarian potato fries from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen tócsi, Hungarian potato fries from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen

Judit Neubauer

Judit Neubauer

Judit Neubauer is a food photographer, chef and writer living in a small village in Northwestern Hungary. Her bilingual blog, Taste of Memories is about life in the Hungarian countryside. While she is bringing new life into the 90 year-old house and orchard of 18 fruit trees she cooks and bakes her family’s old recipes and tries to preserve traditions and old knowledge about how to live in rhythm and harmony with nature.

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