Thanksgiving-the Okland Way

For many people in the United States, Thanksgiving is an important holiday.  Because of our religious pluralism, with many people not celebrating the Christian holiday of Christmas, Thanksgiving is the holiday for getting their family together.  For weeks in advance, we begin planning the event and what we will lovingly serve on our table of bounty. 

To the community of our partner church in Okland, Romania, Thanksgiving is one of the four most important gatherings and religious services of the year.  Like our Thanksgiving, it is a homecoming for the village of Okland.  People return for worship and for food.  

It has long been a tradition at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens (UUFA) that we would, somewhat simultaneously, hold a Hungarian-themed lunch.  We would recognize in the worship service our Unitarian roots from that region of Transylvania, and we would share the communal tradition of breaking bread together.  Members of the UUFA would volunteer to cook traditional Hungarian dishes, hoisting the glass of fellowship to our sister church across the globe.

We cannot do that at this time.  Many things are simply not the way they used to be or the way we would like for them to be. We pine to be with our friends.  We miss the connections that we get gathering for the community meal. 

At the same time, this upheaval can be an opportunity.  It forces us to look at things more closely.  It calls on us to examine what we value, what about that something, or that tradition is it that we value. It challenges us to explore these things, these practices, these traditions with new eyes, and with creativity.

I wanted to share our Hungarian lunch with all of you, my UU friends, but I can’t, so I asked the members of the UUFA’s Partner Church team what their favorite foods were from the menu. What things from the menu they would be missing? Each week this month, I plan to share one of the Hungarian recipes that you would have enjoyed at our annual lunch so that you can make the dish and share your experience. We would love for you to post your attempts and your successes to FaceBook and tag the UUFA and our sister church in Okland.

Camille Belnap and Heather Kleiner recommended this week’s recipe. 

Székely Gulyas – Vegetarian style

(serves 16 – but it is easy to adjust for even four people)


4 medium onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

8 medium carrots, chopped

8 medium zucchini, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons mild Transylvanian paprika

4 “pinches” nutmeg

4 tablespoons fresh parsley

4 tablespoons tomato paste

4 cans red kidney beans, drained

4 cans white beans, drained

3 cups vegetable stock OR tomato juice

salt and pepper to taste

sour cream for garnish


Saute onions, garlic, carrots, and zucchini in olive oil for 5 minutes.  Stir in remaining ingredients, except the sour cream.  Cook over low heat for 15 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.  Serve topped with sour cream and enjoy!