>> Hungarian Cultural Alliance - Magtár | Eat the World Los Angeles

Monday, 13 December 2021

Hungarian Cultural Alliance - Magtár

HUNGARY 🇭🇺
South Hope Street facade
COVID-19 UPDATE: Not one mask was seen on this night.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This was a somewhat private event, but everyone was very welcoming and many friends were made.

 
In English, the Hungarian word "magtár" translates to granary, probably an ode to the former life of the Los Angeles home of the Hungarian Cultural Alliance, now two very large connected former warehouse spaces just south of the 10 on Hope Street. For most of the year the spaces, which include a large event hall and smaller performance stage with connected bar and lounge that feels like a secret speakeasy, are available to rent for events, photo shoots, and anything else you might want to happen in them.

But a few times a year, and especially near Christmas and New Years, the place is filled with Hungarians coming together to celebrate the holidays. In Hungary, Santa (Mikulás) comes on the night of the 5th of December and Saint Nicholas Feast Day is on the 6th, so a recent event at the Hungarian Cultural Alliance was to celebrate this and give gifts to the children.

Large interior event space

Also promised on the event description was traditional Hungarian food, featuring some favorites that are very hard to find outside of the kitchens of the few Hungarian households around the Southland. When a non-Hungarian straggler wandered in and professed a love for their foods, he was immediately taken to the kitchen to see what was cooking.

They were asking for $15 donations for the meal, but as far as could be ascertained, this would include unlimited amounts of everything offered, as the straggler was given heaping plates and offered refills even after the point of pain.

Savory cheesy pastry (pogácsa)
Pogácsa after baking.

Savory cheesy pastry (pogácsa)

A gigantic pot of gulyás in the kitchen

The main event of the night was probably gulyás (above and below), Hungarian-style beef goulash with potatoes and carrots. A giant pot of it was being stirred in the kitchen, and generous bowls were handed out to anyone who came hungry, along with a full basket of tasty bread to go along with it.

The stew hit the spot as always, but especially as the first real cold nights of winter have begun. It was the perfect complement to a chilly December night celebrating Christmas.

A bowl of gulyás

Quite a few people came over to ask (in Hungarian) how the gulyás was, but the straggler apologized for not speaking their language and assured them everything was delicious. This led to many questions about how he had come to get to the event in the first place, followed by talk of traditions and history. A very welcoming bunch.

The second main course available, and it seemed like it was expected to eat both, was túrós csusza (below), a dish of wide, buttery noodles covered in crumbled cheese, thick Hungarian sour cream called tejföl, and chopped bits of fried bacon.

Túrós csusza

Once mixed thoroughly as instructed, this dish is every bit as delectable as it looks for those that enjoy the four components that go into it. There was also cake (sütemény), but by this point the straggler was about to pop and had to do some walking around as not to fall asleep.

Wandering through the kitchen and into the live performance area on the other side of the venue, the lounge and bar were unfortunately not in operation on this night. Maybe for new years eve, when the kids are not the main focus of the party.

Bar and lounge available for events

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