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The Diversity of Food In Austria Today

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Over the next several weeks I shall be writing several stories about my trip in September to Austria, whose food culture has always involved influences from other countries but whose traditions are solidly entrenched both because of local favor and visitors who seek out such dishes as Wiener schnitzel, tafelspitz and Sacher torte.

Vienna, in particular, has always been a crossroads for food, so it learned from the cooks of the Hungarian plains, Transylvania, the Carpathian and Alpine mountains, Italy, France, Germany and Turkey. The royal courts mounted banquets the equal of any in Paris or Moscow, and drew on an abundance of grain, spices and dairy products. Stews and one-pot meals were everyday fare, and lake fish, where available, were served simply. Hunters brought back a wide variety of game like deer, wild boar, hare, pheasant and duck.

The first modern cookbook, Wiener Küche by O. and A. Hess, became a bestseller when published in 1913 and has never been out of print, including in English translation. It contains all the classics along with unusual dishes like liver soup, Bohemian carp with gingerbread, calf’s head, lung and tree trunk cake.

Modern Austrians’ appetites are as international as any in Europe or America, so that pizzerias, sushi counters and Asian restaurants abound in major cities like Vienna and Graz, but on my recent trip I stuck to the classics, starting with a traditional breakfast of bread and jam with cold meats and cheeses. On weekends they might enjoy palatschinken light pancakes with jam and sugar. Lunch used to be the main meal of the day and could be substantial, but, times have changed, and dinner has taken more prominence. In the afternoon the bakeries (Bäckerei), pastry shops and cafés—Vienna has 2400 of them— do brisk business as Austrians take their coffee and snacks of apfelstrudel and Linzertorte.

In fact, the Ringstrasse road that circles the city of Vienna is lined with dozens of cafés open all day long, each appealing to its regulars, who might be young, old, hipsters, musicians, artists and business people. At most you can have a full meal.

If you’re traveling to Austria, here are many of the dishes you’ll likely find in restaurants, cafes, pastry shops, butchers and Cheesemongers you won’t want to miss.

Wiener Schnitzel is made with thinly pounded veal (sometimes pork) that is fried in deep fat so as to puff up the breading. It is a dish the Austrians and Italians, who claim vitello alla milanese as their own, argue over as to who came up with the idea first. It is served with a slice of lemon and either French fries or boiled potatoes.

Knödel are a variety of savory dumplings, the most popular made with potatoes (Kartoffel), flour, eggs and butter, and may be found as a dish on their own or in soup or on the side of another dish.

Tafelspitz is basically just boiled beef, but the meat and vegetables produce a delectable bouillon of its own that is served as a first course and the beef to follow is suffused with it.

Gulyas, again, is a variety of meaty stews from Hungarian origins and always contains paprika. There is also a soup goulash and a fish goulash.

Rindsbraten mit Rahmsoss is a hearty pot roast of beef with a sour cream sauce.

Tiroler Kalbsleber is Tyrolean-style calf’s liver cooked with onions, capers and sour cream.

Strudel refers to a variety of flaky pastries stuffed with fruits, apfelstrudel being the most common.

Linzer torte is an almond flour cake with cinnamon, cloves and currant or cherry jam, usually with a lattice pastry on top.

Sacher torte was created in the kitchens of the Sacher Hotel in Vienna in 1832 by Franz Sacher for Prince Metternich and is made as a dense chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam and covered with a chocolate glaze.

Salzberger Nockerl, a specialty of Strasburg, is meringue soufflé much like baked Alaska.

Wursts sausages, as well as terrines and pâtés

of various meats, are ubiquitous and very varied, much like German types of bratwurst, weisswurst, frankfurters and many more. A modern favorite is currywurst in a peppery ketchup doused with curry powder.


Over the next several weeks I shall be writing several stories about my trip in September to Austria, whose food culture has always involved influences from other countries but whose traditions are solidly entrenched both because of local favor and visitors who seek out such dishes as Wiener schnitzel, tafelspitz and Sacher torte.

Vienna, in particular, has always been a crossroads for food, so it learned from the cooks of the Hungarian plains, Transylvania, the Carpathian and Alpine mountains, Italy, France, Germany and Turkey. The royal courts mounted banquets the equal of any in Paris or Moscow, and drew on an abundance of grain, spices and dairy products. Stews and one-pot meals were everyday fare, and lake fish, where available, were served simply. Hunters brought back a wide variety of game like deer, wild boar, hare, pheasant and duck.

The first modern cookbook, Wiener Küche by O. and A. Hess, became a bestseller when published in 1913 and has never been out of print, including in English translation. It contains all the classics along with unusual dishes like liver soup, Bohemian carp with gingerbread, calf’s head, lung and tree trunk cake.

Modern Austrians’ appetites are as international as any in Europe or America, so that pizzerias, sushi counters and Asian restaurants abound in major cities like Vienna and Graz, but on my recent trip I stuck to the classics, starting with a traditional breakfast of bread and jam with cold meats and cheeses. On weekends they might enjoy palatschinken light pancakes with jam and sugar. Lunch used to be the main meal of the day and could be substantial, but, times have changed, and dinner has taken more prominence. In the afternoon the bakeries (Bäckerei), pastry shops and cafés—Vienna has 2400 of them— do brisk business as Austrians take their coffee and snacks of apfelstrudel and Linzertorte.

In fact, the Ringstrasse road that circles the city of Vienna is lined with dozens of cafés open all day long, each appealing to its regulars, who might be young, old, hipsters, musicians, artists and business people. At most you can have a full meal.

If you’re traveling to Austria, here are many of the dishes you’ll likely find in restaurants, cafes, pastry shops, butchers and Cheesemongers you won’t want to miss.

Wiener Schnitzel is made with thinly pounded veal (sometimes pork) that is fried in deep fat so as to puff up the breading. It is a dish the Austrians and Italians, who claim vitello alla milanese as their own, argue over as to who came up with the idea first. It is served with a slice of lemon and either French fries or boiled potatoes.

Knödel are a variety of savory dumplings, the most popular made with potatoes (Kartoffel), flour, eggs and butter, and may be found as a dish on their own or in soup or on the side of another dish.

Tafelspitz is basically just boiled beef, but the meat and vegetables produce a delectable bouillon of its own that is served as a first course and the beef to follow is suffused with it.

Gulyas, again, is a variety of meaty stews from Hungarian origins and always contains paprika. There is also a soup goulash and a fish goulash.

Rindsbraten mit Rahmsoss is a hearty pot roast of beef with a sour cream sauce.

Tiroler Kalbsleber is Tyrolean-style calf’s liver cooked with onions, capers and sour cream.

Strudel refers to a variety of flaky pastries stuffed with fruits, apfelstrudel being the most common.

Linzer torte is an almond flour cake with cinnamon, cloves and currant or cherry jam, usually with a lattice pastry on top.

Sacher torte was created in the kitchens of the Sacher Hotel in Vienna in 1832 by Franz Sacher for Prince Metternich and is made as a dense chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam and covered with a chocolate glaze.

Salzberger Nockerl, a specialty of Strasburg, is meringue soufflé much like baked Alaska.

Wursts sausages, as well as terrines and pâtés

of various meats, are ubiquitous and very varied, much like German types of bratwurst, weisswurst, frankfurters and many more. A modern favorite is currywurst in a peppery ketchup doused with curry powder.

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