Prost! The day is here, folks; we’ve finally arrived. This week we’re cooking Austria! And I am definitely more excited for Austria than I’ve been for any country to date. Why? Because Austria is the first country I’m cooking that I’ve actually visited!
On top of that, Austria was one of my favorite countries on my trip. The sights, the people, the architecture, the food…. I won’t forget any of it. And I am beyond excited to spend the next two weeks reliving my weekend in this country.
Vienna with Friends
I started my trip to Austria in Vienna. A friend from my study abroad (hey Elizabeth!!) knew a friend that was studying in Vienna (what’s up, Alexis!?), so we were able to stay with her for the weekend and get the inside scoop of the country! We visited the Schonbrunn Palace, participated in the spectacular Viennese coffee and cake tradition, and explored the Imperial Crypts. My favorite, of course, was the Saturday morning spent at the Vienna Farmers’ Market where we were able to experience the gorgeous produce and pastries that Austria has to offer.
Solo Travel to Salzburg
On Sunday, my friends had to return home, so I hopped on a train to Salzburg by myself. The Sound of Music tour that I took in Salzburg was probably the most touristy thing I did all semester, but it was also one of my all-time favorite memories. And yes, I sang Do-Re-Mi with a group of strangers about 5 or 6 times. Salzburg was small and quaint; shopping in the cute town, popping my head into churches, and listening to violin performers play on the streets are memories I hold dear.
I loved Austria for so many reasons. The immaculate architecture in Vienna is awe-inspiring. The beauty of the Alps from Salzburg was extraordinary. I felt safe, had fun, and learned a lot. I felt blessed.
Austria showed me a small but spectacular sliver of the beauty the world has to offer.
And, of course, the food was great, too.
On the Menu
- Liptaur (Cheese Spread with Pickled Beets)
- Käsespätzle (Spätzle with Cheese Sauce)
- Wiener Schnitzel (Breaded and Fried Veal Cutlets)
- Kaiserschmarrn (Shredded Fluffy Pancakes with Plum Jam)
- Sacher Torte (Bittersweet Chocolate Cake with Apricot Rum Filling)
Fun Facts about Austria
- Postcards were first used in Austria
- Linzer Torte, an Austrian recipe, was the world’s first cake recipe to appear in written form
- Austrians have mastered world-life balance and are allotted 5 weeks of paid vacation per year
- The night before Christmas, Austrians celebrate Krampusnacht. Krampus, a terrifying half-goat, half human with fur and horns comes to punish children who have misbehaved (in contrast to Santa Claus)
- Skiing is a favorite pastime. Probably because the Alps cover 64% of the country!
- Sigmund Freud
- Wolfgang Mozart
- Maria Von Trapp
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Adolf Hitler (YEP! Hitler was not actually from Germany!!)
The Habsburg Dynasty ruled Austria from 1278 to 1918. In 1918, however, Austria was on the losing side of World War I, so it was declared a republic and divided into ⅛ of its size. In 1938, Germany declared a forced alliance between itself and Austria, and Germans occupied the country until the end of the war. Allied troops did not withdraw from Austria until almost 10 years after the end of World War II!
Take a look here to see videos of the Spanish Riding School, a unique form of entertainment in Vienna that was originally used to entertain the Habsburgs:
Influence on Austria
Much of the food in Austria is similar to food found in Hungary and Germany. From 1867-1918, Austria was one half of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the midst of World War II, Austria experienced quite a bit of German influence from 1928-1945. Though Austria does have dishes unique to the country, much of its food culture and flavors are consistent with Hungary and Germany as well.
During the rule of the Habsburgs, Austria gained and lost control of several other European states. It has been said that perusing an Austrian menu is like taking a stroll through the history of Europe.
Food Culture and Dining Style in Austria
Breakfast in Austria is typically small and light and served in a continental manner. Lunch and dinner consist heavily of meat and often feature veal, pork, beef, chicken, and goose. Mealtimes are drawn out affairs, known to last for hours. Dinner takes at least one hour, and dessert normally takes another.
Heurigers are a very popular night out for a family. The word means “this year’s” because it only serves the latest version of wine. Parents and children can all enjoy a night out at a heuriger. You can even bring your dog!
Coffee shops in Vienna fill up around 3:00 pm when the city takes a break for the all-popular “coffee and cake” tradition. Menus, sometimes with even as many as 50 different types of cake, are served alongside a coffee and act as a perfect pick-me-up for a midday slump. Coffee and cake is a social affair when the Viennese can catch up with family and friends.
As is evident by the daily cake custom, Austrians have a huge sweet tooth. Pastries are very common in the country, and are sold in a konditorei, which means pastry shop. Pastries and desserts are called mehlspeisen.
Enjoyed learning about Austrian food culture? You’ll love cooking it even more! Click on the recipes above to try typical Austrian fare. Comment on the articles to tell me what you think. Guten Appetit!