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Baroness Elemér Bornemissza, Carola Szilvássy, one of the most remarkable women in Transylvania’s aristocracy, was seen as the focus of social life prior to the Second World War. Not only did she engage with social problems and the arts, but she was also interested in gastronomy and various culinary adventures. She was a proficient housewife and a superb master of dining culture. Her contemporaries considered she oversaw the finest kitchen in Transylvania, she had a very good sense both for cooking and for settings. Her jealously guarded recipe book provides an insight into the dining habits of Transylvanian aristocracy and the rich, varied range of dishes available at that time.

Ildikó Marosi, literary historian from Târgu Mureș (Marosváráshely), was the person to come across the recipes of Carola Szilvássy. The 272-page lined booklet with moss green cover is written in Carola’s own characteristic hand. Proof of its significance is that in her will she makes separate provision for the book, leaving it to Mrs. János Kemény. When editing the recipes, Ildikó Marosi preserved Carola’s way of writing, her expressions, the use of foreign terms, and a few inconsistencies, too. One particular feature of the book is that alongside the titles of dishes one will also find the sources, from which it is possible to deduce where and from whom the famous Transylvanian woman learned each particular recipe. By doing this she established the historical background to the recipe book, which the editor has presented in a clear and fascinating way through interviews and contemporary reports in the foreword and afterword of the volume.
Carola’s recipe book is mainly aimed at the more experienced cook who is keen to launch out on an exciting culinary journey, who is ready to sample the famous Transylvanian Richelieu turkey recipe and who is interested in the ways of preparing rabbit and goose liver pate, horseradish with orange or tarragon chicken. Furthermore, one can learn from the recipes why when making risotto it is necessary to brown the rice on cubed bone marrow, or what sort of desserts and cakes well-to-do families of the age consumed. Those hungry for the finest delicacies also get tips on serving, what to do with leftovers, and even improvising when you cannot get a particular ingredient.
Baroness Elemér Bornemissza, Carola Szilvássy: Tried and Trusted Recipes (Kipróbált receptek) (editor: Ildikó Marosi). Miercurea-Ciuc (Csíkszereda), 2009.