I belong to that class of unhappy people who are not easily affected by crowd excitement. Too often I find myself sadly unmoved in the midst of multitudinous emotion. Few sensations are more disagreeable. The defect is in part temperamental, and in part due to that intellectual snobbishness, that fastidious rejection of what is easy and obvious, which is one of the melancholy consequences of the acquisition of culture. How often one regrets this asceticism of the mind! How wistfully one longs to rid oneself of the habit of rejection and selection, and to enjoy all the dear, obviously luscious, idiotic emotions without an after-thought. And indeed, however much we may admire the Chromatic Fantasia of Bach, we all of us have a soft spot somewhere in our minds that is sensitive to “Roses in Picardy.” But the soft spot is surrounded by hard spots, the enjoyment is never unmixed with critical disapprobation. The excuses for working up a communal emotion, even communal emotion itself, are rejected as too gross. We turn from them as a cenobite of the Thebaid would have turned from dancing girls or a steaming dish of tripe and onions.—Aldous Huxley, Complete Essays, Vol. I.
Last Sunday, Martine and I went to the First Hungarian Reformed Church of Los Angeles in Hawthorne for their annual harvest festival. It was a good opportunity to catch up with L.A.’s Hungarians, who are all spread across the landscape of Southern California. And it was a great opportunity to have some home-cooked Magyar dishes (kolbasz and hurka) and enjoy the energetic dancing of the Kárpátok Hungarian Folk Ensemble (pictured above).
I am always pleasantly surprised to find out how musically talented my people are. (And me with a tin ear!) In addition to the dancing, there are always several musicians playing musical instruments from the accordion to the violin. The small church hall fairly rocked with all the musical acts.
Although I do not belong to the Hungarian Reformed church, my mother did. My Mom and Dad had an agreement between themselves that any sons in the family would be brought up as Catholics, and any daughters as Protestants. Well, it turned out there were only my brother Dan and me. We were both were baptized Catholic and attended Catholic elementary and secondary schools. For some reason, the Hungarian Catholics in L.A. don’t seem to have any festivals—at least, none of which I am aware. As a result, Martine and I usually hang out with the Protestants.
Martine may have been born in France, but she loves Hungarian food and music. And she loves Hungarian pastries. So these few local church events are high points in our year.