Eva’s Story: My Hungarian Grandma

When I was a little girl in Hungary my grandmother used to preserve all sorts of vegetables from her garden. At that time fresh (which meant not processed, but not really fresh because they were imported) vegetables were not available in Hungary during the winter months and I was told to eat our pickled vegetables because they had lots of vitamin C. I did not need much persuasion; I loved the sour taste. Our favorites were pickled cucumbers, green tomatoes, peppers, and cabbage. Sauerkraut was our number-one favorite in winter and in summer we loved pickled cucumbers best. Starting in May we made pickled cucumbers almost every week. As soon as one jar was gone, the next was already out in the sun waiting to be “done.” It was not a big deal for us but a way of life.

Now in America three decades later, I signed up for a fermentation course at a heath food store. I did not know exactly what it was about (we never used the word “fermentation” in Hungary, we just pickled our vegetables), but it seemed interesting and healthy. The master fermenter gave a long introduction about the health benefits of fermented foods. He also talked about his childhood; he learned to ferment from his Slovakian grandmother. As Hungary and Slovakia are neighboring countries, I thought maybe I had heard about this process; it sounded very familiar. When he switched from “Why lactobacilli are healthy” to “How to ferment,” I had a strange feeling of discovery – evidently I grew up “fermenting” vegetables.

Only now do I realize the value of what Grandma taught me. My favorite sauerkraut has not only vitamin C but also vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, E, K, niacin, iron, copper, and more. It regulates fat digestion and cholesterol, strengthens heart muscles, and stimulates cell growth. It has anti-cancer properties and, last but not least, it is a very effective treatment for hangovers!

I came to The Suppers Programs because I wanted to learn about healthy eating. I started reading the information on the website and I must admit it intrigued me. How can people live without wheat, dairy, and sugar? What is left to eat? The Suppers Programs has been the best health investment I have ever made. At Suppers we talk about the spirit of creativity, which to me means the healing force that rises when we feel we are actively participating in creating the program. This is how I felt when I brought samples of my fermented vegetables to share at a meeting. There was great enthusiasm among members who wanted to learn to do this. When I teach them how, my Hungarian Grandma will be sitting next to me, smiling. “These are just pickles.” Just?