Hannes Richter

Taste of Austria

Hannes Richter

Austria’s famous Marillenknoedel (Apricot dumplings) can be served as a main dish or dessert

Austrian Information presents Taste of Austria, a new website dedicated to the fabulous and extravagant cuisine of Austria. The page will provide information and facts about how Austrian cuisine became this wonderful combination of different influences and flavors that it is today. From A as in Apfelstrudel (apple strudel) to Z as in Zwetschkenknödel (plum dumplings), Taste of Austria will introduce all the various delicacies that are served in a typical Austrian restaurant or household.

Furthermore, it will give the user the opportunity to download many recipes of various dishes and to watch instructional videos of how these dishes are actually prepared. Apart from handson instructions, the website will also give background information about Austrian cuisine in general and many dishes that show strong ties to Austria’s imperial past.

The food culture in Austria cannot be easily explained for each dish has its own history and the way meals are celebrated is very unique. Taste of Austria will help to better understand why Austrians take their food very seriously.

Strong ties to Austria’s Past

Like almost everything in Austria, its cuisine has a long history and is strongly connected to tradition. Most of the dishes were greatly influenced by the events of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The size of the Empire and the countries it embraced led to a collection of distinct flavors from Italy, Hungary, Germany and the Balkans. The Goulash, originally regarded as a Hungarian dish, can be found on a typical Austrian menu as well as the Schweinsbraten, a dish which is also served in Bavaria. The Austrian cuisine is one of the most multi-cultural ones in Europe and extends far beyond the current Austrian borders. Many dishes that are served tell their own stories.

Emperor Franz Josef for example was known to be a gourmet who relished good food and wine. Consequently, many of the famous Austrian delicacies such as the Sachertorte, the Tafelspitz or the Sacherwürstel achieved great popularity due to the Monarch’s culinary tastes. The Tafelspitz in particular, which literally means the “end of the table” where the Emperor used to sit, was Franz Josef ’s favorite.

To this day one of the most popular desserts is called Kaiserschmarrn or Emperor’s pun cake in honor of the Monarch. The story of the world-famous Sachertorte can be traced back to the year 1832, when the powerful “coachman of Europe” Prince Clemens Wenzel Lothar Metternich demanded the creation of a new and outstanding dessert for his important guests.

In the master chef ’s absence, the order was passed on to 16-year-old Franz Sacher, who came up with the idea of a fluffy and tasty chocolate cake. The guests were so delighted by Franz’s creation that the evening ended up to be a great success. Today the Sachertorte is one of Austria’s most famous desserts Austria’s famous Marillenknoedel (Apricot dumplings) can be served as a main dish or dessert SPRING 2012 │ 19 and is shipped fromVienna to every part of the world.

There would be many more stories to tell but the best way to explore them all is to go to a local Gasthaus (tavern) and ask the owners themselves. They will be more than happy to share them with you.

The Concept of Gemuetlichkeit

One thing to understand about Austrian food culture is that in Austria, food is relished and meals are celebrated. Austrians can spend more than an hour discussing various topics over a meal and afterwards spend an equal amount of time to finish their conversations over a cup of coffee and dessert.

This behavior is often referred to as typical Austrian Gemuetlichkeit and is distinctive to Austrian culture. Gemuetlichkeit, a word which has been adopted in the English language, describes an environment or state of mind that produces a happy mood and a sense of wellbeing. It describes a notion of belonging and social acceptance, of being cozy and welcomed.

That is exactly what you would expect to find in most of Austria’s local taverns, restaurants and cafés. During the summer months, people love to spend much of their time either at a Heurigen (rural taverns selling home-grown wine) or one of the many Schanigärten (tables on the sidewalk in front of a coffee house or restaurants) where they enjoy an occasional beer, Radler (beer with lemonade) or Gespritzter (wine typically mixed with soda water).

In the cold winter months, Austrians love to visit one of the many Weihnachtsmärkte (christmas markets) where they will indulge in Punsch, Glühwein and homemade cookies. No matter what time of the year, Austrians love to enjoy their food and wine. That is why, especially in the countryside, original recipes and cooking secrets have been passed on for generations.

Austrian Food goes International

Austrian cuisine, however, is not only cherished by Austrians but now also enjoys an international reputation. Acclaimed chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Kurt Gutenbrunner have helped spread the word about Austrian food even here in the United States. Puck has been an institution in Los Angeles and the United States for more than a decade and is famous for his catering at the Academy Awards each year.

Kurt Gutenbrunner is the owner of various restaurants in New York City and recently released his new cookbook “New Cuisine”, in which he shows a different and very modern approach to Austrian cuisine. Apart from its food, Austria is also particularly famous for its extravagant wines, many of which are exported to the United States. In fact, the United States – succeeded by Germany and Italy – is the third biggest export market for Austrian food and wine.

The special mix of exquisite wine, fine dining, architecture and classical music is a trend that appeals to people from all over the world. So if the interest in Austrian food has been sparked and curiosity as to where these delicious dishes are available has been aroused, then visit our website http://tasteofaustria.org. It gives a detailed overview of the history of Austrian food, culture and traditions and provides extensive information about the restaurant and events that serve Austrian food in the United States.