On the first page of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, unsuspecting young solicitor Jonathan Harker, on his way to meet his new client, stops by the Hotel Royale in Klausenburgh—now Cluj-Napoca—and has a satisfying chicken dinner. Bram Stoker somehow thought it would be fine to send Dracula into the world without any more description of Harker’s dinner than to have his narrator report that it was “paprika hendl,” that it was “done up some way with red pepper,” and that it was “very good but thirsty. (Mem., get recipe for Mina.).” This reader, at least, considers the absence of more information about “paprika hendl” to be a serious flaw in Dracula. As Alice (of Wonderland fame) once mused, a book is useless without pictures, conversations, or recipes… if I have that right.
Unlike me, frustrated and hungry on reading this passage in Dracula, local high school student Aiden Strauss decided to do something about Stoker’s authorial oversight. Undaunted by Dracula’s slapdash sketch of Harker’s tantalizing meal, Strauss found the recipe for Chicken Paprikash online, made it with the help of his family, and served it with spaetzle (dumplings). Here at The Rosenbach we learned of Aiden’s culinary intrepidity during the Strauss family’s visit to the museum last year, and they kindly gave us permission to post these pictures of Aiden’s success on our blog this Halloween:
At The Rosenbach, we have found this story to be the source of many encouraging ruminations. Consider how many unseemly behaviors could be learned from the pages of Dracula; Dracula himself, his three female consorts, and his tragic henchman Renfield are poor examples for the youth of today. I think we can all be heartened to see that a young person can take something so positive from such a lurid and unrefined book! Thanks to Aiden Strauss, Chicken Paprikash can be added to a (hypothetical) Rosenbach recipe book, beside Leopold Bloom’s “thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards,” and “stuffed roast heart” (which, on further reflection, would be a feast almost horrific enough for a vampire!).
Thank you Aidan, and Happy Halloween!