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The simple lowdown on Fairfield

A Hungarian specialty to die for

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Sutni szalona. What, you say?
If you are not Hungarian or don’t pal around with Hungarians, you have no idea what I am talking about. To me, it is a fond food memory from my childhood.
Sutni szalona came to mind as I was reading Genny Reilly’s article in the Fairfield Citizen about the Fairfield Public Library’s “Around the Table: Food Memoirs from Fairfield,” a writing contest that is part of “One Book/One Town.” This year’s book selection is Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Eating Animals.”
Most of my forebears are Italian (there’s a little Irish and German thrown in there too), but my family lived across the street from a widow of Hungarian descent. Every late summer when the vegetable harvest was at its peak, Mrs. Schemare made the call to our house to alert us that the time had come to have our annual sutni szalona feast.
Sutni szalona is a special Hungarian bacon. (I haven’t checked but I am sure you can get it at the Hungarian Meat Market and Delicatessen on Kings Highway East.) Although one of the tastiest treats ever consumed, “szalona” (its named shortened by those in the know) is a cholesterol killer – and here’s why: The bacon is the central focus of the sandwich.
To make it, this is what you do. You have to build a wood fire in a grill. Chunks of the bacon are skewered (we usually used sturdy sticks from the yard but you can use metal or wooden shish kabob skewers if you have them) and held over the fire. Once they start to sizzle and the fat starts to drip, you dab the grease onto slices of fresh rye bread. How much fat drippings you use is all a matter of taste – and how much your arteries can stand. Then you take slices of fresh vegetables right out of the garden and layer them on the fat-soaked bread. The layering of the tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and green peppers is your preference. Then you drizzle more bacon fat on the vegetables. Now eat.
I guarantee you will never have another sinful sandwich like this one. I also guarantee you can’t eat just one sandwich because the combination of the salty, fatty bacon drippings and the fresh, crisp vegetables is addictive.
As for the library’s contest, essays will be accepted from children 6 to 11 years old; teens from 12 to 18 years old; adults, unpublished; and adults, published. The library will accept poems up to 36 lines or 300-word essays from children and 800-word ones from teens and adults. The deadline is Jan. 31. The top three writers in each age category will read their submissions at an awards ceremony on March 1.
For more information, visit www.fairfieldpubliclibrary.org.
Oh, and apparently I am not alone in my fondness for this sandwich – there is a whole Facebook page dedicated to sutni szalona. No kidding.

Categories: General

4 Responses

  1. Brent says:

    When i was growing up, my family would go to my grandfather’s for sutni every Memorial Day and 4th of July. To me, sutni means summer. My dad, my grandfather and I would put the bacon on a long fork, grill it over charcoal and drizzle it on the veggies / bread.

    We used jowl bacon (which is pretty hard to find), patted it with paprika, then would drizzle the fat over rye bread with green peppers, radishes, red onions, and then as the bacon cooked, we would slice off some of the cooked bacon and put it on top of the bread. You don’t need to soak the bread – just enough to give it a little taste. The bacon itself is what gives it the flavor. If you put on too much, it can make you nauseous. Less is more.

    But yes, I remember sutni as an integral part of a summer in a Hungarian neighborhood.

  2. Robyn says:

    AAHHHH!!!! Our favorite time of year is szolona time! The hard part is finding good Hungarian meat markets that still sell it.

    BTW – If you like sutni szolona – try paprika szolona. You don’t grill it. It’s a “meatier” version that you slice thinly and eat on pumpernickle bread – with salt and pepper. That is my guilty pleasure!

  3. lee says:

    Pat,

    A morning dip at Jennings, then Szalona and kielbass on the grill, on a hot summer afternoon. Chill be gone.

    Don’t forget the pronouncer!

    shoot-knee sul-ah-nah

  4. Patti says:

    Sounds fantastic!