Elizabeth Csulka, one of Melbourne’s original Hungarian chefs came to Australia from Budapest in 1983. She’d been a nurse in Hungary, but she couldn’t speak English so instead of a hospital she found herself in the kitchens of Acland Street’s legendary Blue Danube. For 13 years, Csulka served up her thick pea soup and crumbed liver to St Kilda’s then mostly Eastern European community, who’d split their time between the Danube and its equally legendary neighbour, Scheherazade.
Csulka took over the pans at Newmarket Hotel in the mid-1990s, which, at the time, was Melbourne’s most famous Hungarian kitchen. Rumour has it her schnitzel was so good that even those customers who’d rather the barmaids kept their tops on would come for it (they’d try to be out by 8pm before the show started). It was also under her reign that the name, Schnitz ‘n’ Tits, was coined.
After eight years, Csulka opened her own restaurant, the Little Hungarian, and has served her home-style food there ever since. If you’re unfamiliar with Hungarian food, know that eating it is a lesson in European history. Its love of preserves and pickles can be traced to its ethnic people’s (the Magyars) nomadic roots; Italy’s influence, by way of the Neapolitan Princess Beatrice who married Hungary’s King Matthias I (circa 1450s), in its use of pasta, some sauces and onion. The Turks brought paprika and stuffed vegetables.
Csulka serves nokedli with her signature Hungarian goulash; a hearty, tender beef stew simmered with paprika and garnished with a dill pickle. It is the definition of comfort food (Anna Webster – The Age GoodFood July 3 2018)
The Little Hungarian Restaurant
708 Glenhuntly Road
Caulfield South 3162