Just over a year ago, I set up a writing desk in the sun-drenched library of my home; and scattered the top of it with piles of old letters, family photographs, lined note pads, a pile of lead pencils and a fountain pen. So began my journey of writing a book.
The months that followed have been some of the most interesting, and rewarding, days of my life. Drawing upon my own memories, together with the video recording of an oral history interview I did with my father in 1997 - and his own writings - I managed to weave a three-part memoir with recipes.
Of course, I had help. Peter was there with a constant supply of chocolate, A4 paper and printer ink. My big sister, Judy, supported me from the get-go and stepped in with details about events that happened before I was born. My Hungarian "sister" and dear friend, Betty, kick-started the translation of my father's writings from Magyar to English. Readers Christine, Bellinda, Nick, Robbie, Diana, all proof read early drafts and encouraged me to keep writing. My photographer friend, Amanda Kelly, took my design for the cover and made it pop. Michael Priest, my designer, brought my vision for the book to life. Kerry Anderson, was there as my friend and perfectly pedantic editor. And Darren Muir, my printer, brought it all together into a fine-looking, lovely-to-hold-in-the-hands piece of work.
The day the printer telephoned to let me know that my 'baby' was ready for collection, I felt as though I was walking on air ... and I still feel that way. I am blessed and proud to have had the opportunity to publish this tribute to my beloved parents, András and Irén.
POSTCARDS AND MORSELS FROM THE LAUNCH
On 12 November 2016, The Barber from Budapest & other stories was launched at Gungaderra Homestead, a heritage-listed property with strong links to Canberra's old past.
Some 75 or so guests gathered to celebrate with me on that warm springtime afternoon. It was standing-room only, and I was honoured to be surrounded by loving family and friends (some old, old friends and new ones too) - several of whom had travelled long distances to be there and many of whom I had not seen for decades.
My long-time, good friend, Michael Schwager, was MC for the occasion. He opened with the words, 'How does one introduce Liz Posmyk?' and then went on to sing praises of my 'professionalism and commitment to excellence' and 'our fun-filled friendship'. (Right back at you, Doggie. Mwah ❤).
I was blessed to have met fellow Hungarian, Steve Doszpot MLA, at the 60th Commemoration of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution in Canberra recently, and was honoured when he said that he was 'very much touched' by my book. Steve spoke eloquently at the launch, recounting his own family's escape from the 'brutal and savage events' that took place in what was then Communist Hungary. Steve also reflected on how his mother used to say that 'the children of the Revolution (i.e. those who fought and died during the 1956 Uprising) gave up their todays for our tomorrows'. ❤
'It has been such a privilege to work on this beautiful, heartwarming memoir of love,' said my wonderful editor and friend, Kerry Anderson. (Thank you, darling one ❤). Kerry then read from the chapter titled Serendipity in Sátoraljaújhely - the story about the day in May 1945, when my father first met my mother.
One guest later noted that 'there was not a dry eye in the house' throughout the formal proceedings.
I followed on with short readings from the chapters titled The Girl from the Tobacco Factory, and The Buggy Shed at the Constable's Cottage. And then it was time for all to eat, drink, mingle and be merry.
Thank you to everyone who attended the event and celebrated with me. A note of thanks to fellow Hungarian writer, Suzanne Kiraly, who shot this footage at the start of the party. Also to Todd Wright, from Threesides Marketing, who recorded some of the formal proceedings (look for live footage on 12 November in their feed).
And huge thanks to the lovely Trazel, Maria and Louise, who stepped in to take care of the hospitality service at the last minute when other arrangements fell through. (Absolute legends).
A special thank you to Richard Hamper from Computivity, who captured almost all of the images in the collages below. (Beautiful work). Richard's photographs are watermarked accordingly. (My friends, Amy, Fran, Andrea, Susan and Sharon took the remaining few images).
Friends and family gathered to celebrate with me ...
Then it was time to eat, drink, mingle and be merry ...
Hungarian specialties such as Gerbeaud slice, walnut torta, apple strudel, cherry sponge, chocolate and walnut wafer biscuits, langos, and sweet Tokaji wine graced the table at my launch, among other good things. My daughter, Lauren, baked a spectacular-looking gluten-free chocolate cake. And a team of helpers made gluten-free cucumber, ham and cheese sandwiches with me. All were quickly devoured. I could be wrong, but I think the most popular food was the Hungarian deep-fried bread, cooked fresh by my friends Laci and Erzsebet from Papa Laci the Langos Man.
ABOUT THE BOOK
A story of survival, hope and love, The Barber from Budapest & other stories follows the life of András (my father), who was born in Hungary before the cataclysmic changes of World War II tore at the fabric and heart of his world.
Determined to give her children a better life than her own, his sweetheart and devoted wife, Irén (my mother) – the spirited and beautiful 'girl from the Tobacco Factory’ – nurtured the family with a delicious repertoire of Hungarian dishes – the recipes of which are chronicled within the book.
This poignant and engaging memoir is a powerful glimpse into their lives as refugees and as a family at peace. To you, the reader, I offer inspiration through richly evocative stories, and the gift of a wonderful Hungarian feast.
WHAT THE READERS ARE SAYING:
"I have just read your book from cover to cover in one sitting - I couldn't put it down. It's an amazing body of work - a mixture of laughter, tears and pride. You have told the story beautifully. The photos are heartfelt and complementary to the memoir..."
"I cried, I laughed. I loved it and I want everyone to read it."
"The best books, like yours, are straight from the heart."
"I love your book... totally engrossed."
"It's a very interesting book and so very relevant when you think of all the refugees and displaced persons in the world at the moment."
"I have just finished reading the book ... and loved it".
"Absorbing... I started flicking through it and devoured half of it... I could not pull myself away."
"I love the book, it's riveting."
"I read the book almost in one go... thoroughly enjoyable."
INTERVIEWS AND REVIEWS:
Bree Winchester - The Canberra Times
Serina Huang - The RiotACT
Sally Hammond - Food & Travel
Lish Fejer, Sunday Brunch, 666 ABC Radio Canberra
2CC Radio with Chris Mac
Dearest readers, if you would like to buy a copy (or copies) of The Barber from Budapest & other stories, simply click here to place your order.
I will personally sign and inscribe the book/s for you.
With Christmas approaching, what better gift can there be? ❤ Do let me know if you would like your book/s gift wrapped.
As a further bonus, I have negotiated discounted shipping within Australia for my valued customers, via FastWay Couriers to street addresses (at half the price of our national carrier). Discounted international postage is in the pipeline too for early 2017, so please stand by if you are reading this from overseas.
A percentage of royalties from sales of my book will be donated to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) - a cause that holds special meaning for me, particularly given my own family's experience, and the current situation in our crazy world.
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
Join me as I share with you my favourite recipes; postcards and morsels from my travels; conversations with cookery writers
and chefs; and news on food, cookbooks
- Liz Posmyk
NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.