A personal story about my experience with Imi
Well, he didn’t own a cake shop, he just used to visit it on a daily basis. When I met Imi he was 64 years old, already retired from military service for 10 years, and he shared his 2 training locations; one in Tel-Aviv and the other in Netanya to his students. So, as a retired gentleman who wasn’t teaching anymore, he had lots of spare time to fill up with his habits, such as sitting almost every morning in a coffee shop. When I became Imi’s right hand, it was in the early 80’s of the last century. We used to meet at his home or in his favorite coffee shop in Netanya called “UGATI” which means “My Cake” in Hebrew. It was considered an establishment to be owned by an Hungarian couple, who had the knowledge to make cakes and coffee like Imi used to consume daily in his hometown. We had there our favorite cake, its name was RIGO YANCHI – and it was probably the tastiest cake I’ve ever had.
During these delightful meetings we had in that coffee shop, we used to chat about life while keeping on improving the Krav Maga system alongside jokes telling and enjoying each other.
If I accidentally made an attempt to pay, you could easily compare it to taking a lion’s hunt from in between his claws, which was pretty much impossible to perform. So, it was Imi who payed most of the time. He always had a reason why he should be the one is paying an not me, the poor student – the newly wed and young father. But from time to time, definitely not often, I would asked to be excused to go to the restroom and on my way I would pay our bill, which resulted a very unhappy Imi.
To clarify, sometimes people were sitting with Imi for a cup of coffee and a cake and he would have always pay. Some people naturally exploited that, but Imi was happy with his role – he said that in his age his money was meant to go for these causes – making people happy.
Couple of decades after that, I started visiting Hungary to teach and spread the KMG way. I have been travelling couple times a year, and occasionally I was telling the guys about our favorite Hungarian cake. Eventually causing some of the instructors to bring this cake to satisfy my sweet tooth.
Last week, one of our excellent Expert Instructors – Erik Kottek decided to “educate” me in the Hungarian culinary history. Erik was kind enough to share with me the story and roots of this cake. I am bringing it here to you, so you would know a bit more about Imi and his better taste in cakes 🙂
The night of the black eyes
The story of the Sponge Cake, Rigó Jancsi
Rigó Jancsi (Rigó = Sparrow, Jancsi = Jhonny => Jhonny Sparrow) was a famous Hungarian gipsy musican. He started playing the violin when he was 5. His family was very poor and they could only get him a violin without spare strings. He stole strings from the teacher of the local elementary school but eventually he got busted. The teacher let him keep the strings, and played for him a piece of music – which led him to take his first steps on his way to a world fame.
30 years later in 1896, he was already playing with his orchestra all around Europe. Once, he played in a restaurant in Paris, and “The Belgian duke of Chimay” was dining there with his young beautiful wife, Clara Ward, the daughter of an American millionaire. She was totally fascinated by his music but moreover, by his passionate black eyes. They immediately fell in love, the duchess left her husband and they lived together in different countries spending 8 million dollars. This was a huge scandal and a hot story at that time.
It was such a big scandal, even Toulouse Lautrec painted them.
Jancsi after their wedding.
Clara Ward and Rigó
But what a cake has to do with the story? This is a romantic novel mixed with the brightness of a confectioner from Budapest. To show much kindness, Rigó Jancsi bought a special kind of sweet Sponge Cake for his love in this confectionery. The owner thought it would be a good name for his cake and he was right. Thanks to that big scandal, his cake became one of the most famous sweets in Hungary.
Wikipedia – Clara Ward; Wikipedia – Rigo Jancsi