Slumgullen, Chop Suey, Hungarian Goulash and other Tasty Treats

Here’s a few tasty treats for you to savor:  Along the 2000 mile Butterfield Mail Express line in 1859, travelers were treated to a stew called slumgullen.  Slumgullen consisted of anything the cook had in her kitchen.  Mark Twain described it as tasting like dirty dishwater.   But after riding in a dusty stagecoach round the clock even dirty dishwater had a certain appeal.

Recently a native of Visalia, California told me about a cook in one of our historic downtown eateries who would scrape all the leftovers from his customers’ plates and toss them in the wok at the end of the day.  He called it “Chop Suey.”  Oh well, chop suey had to start somewhere, right?

When I was a child, at the end of each week, my mom would fix a yummy dish from the week’s leftovers which she called Hungarian Goulash. We were not Hungarian and we had no idea what real goulash contained, but try as I might, I can’t reproduce her secret recipe.

I get sick at the idea of eating slumgullen and I’m not sure I’d order chop suey in my hometown’s restaurants in its early days for fear of catching some other patron’s disease.  I could trust eating my mom’s Hungarian goulash, however.  In Mark 7:18-20 NIV Jesus spoke of a greater danger than food poisoning.  “Are you so dull?” He asked the crowd. ” you see nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him unclean…it doesn’t enter his heart but his stomach and then out of his body…What comes out of a man is what makes him unclean.”

Words flowing from the heart to the lips do much more damage to the soul than slumgullen or chop suey any day.  Still wish I could figure out my mother’s recipe for Hungarian goulash.


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