Austria has plenty of great food – let’s get things straight right away that I am definitely not complaining here! All I am doing is bringing attention to some of the ‘stranger’ quirks I’ve noticed when it comes to Austrian people and their food. Read on for my most memorable ten.
They love apricot jam
Forget all the other types of jam, apricot is King here. It goes in krapfen, in cakes, in pastries… they can’t get enough of it!
They think this is a meal
They legitimately think that this, is an adequate evening meal. What more can I say?
Toasted sandwiches with sauce and mayonnaise
If you order a toastie (known here simply as a toast), it comes with a side of sauce and mayo, which you use to dip your sandwich in before eating. It’s odd, but it’s definitely not bad!
They put pancakes in their soup!
True story. They take a standard beef broth, cook up a whole lot of crepes, cut them into thin lines and stir them on in. I guess it’s the equivalent of croutons, but it just doesn’t gel for me. Croutons themselves soak up the flavour of the soup, whereas pieces of crepe just add slimy suckers that aren’t quite noodles.
Bread and soup
While I’m on the subject of soup, instead of dunking their piece of bread into the soup and eating it, they tend to take a slurp of soup, followed by a bite of bread, or vice-versa. Croutons are put into soup as usual. And on an extra note, for such a big soup country, I can’t remember ever seeing a soup spoon, except in a very fancy restaurant. Are they going out of style?
Bread and butter
Moving onto bread, being offered bread with your meal is very common, but there’s generally no butter with that. I was delighted when one day in the canteen at work a visiting English guy asked where the butter was for his bread roll. It’s not just me!
They put horseradish in EVERYTHING!
I suppose every country has some kind of food ingredient they tend to overdo. Like dill in Ukraine or Guinness in Ireland. For Austria… it seems to be horseradish. It’s in every sandwich and is regularly used in cooking and as a topping for meat or fish. It spices up just about everything and leaves your mouth burning and your sinuses clear. Strangely enough, I like it – it’s kind of like the buzz you get from hot English mustard or wasabi.
They eat this – Leberkäse
We have nicknamed it ‘Austrian Koala’, because it’s solid like a koala, and it’s kind of a national treasure in Austria (and Germany). It’s made from… oh I don’t even want to know what* and features worms of cheese squirting out of it. You cook it up, cut off a thick slab and slap it in a Semmel (bread roll) with sauce and mustard. It is revolting… oh except when you’ve been drinking, then somehow it’s amazing!
*Following a Google search it actually doesn’t sound as bad as it looks – Leberkäse (directly translates to ‘Liver Cheese’) is made from corned beef, pork, bacon and onions all mashed in together. In former times it was made with liver and other offal, hence the name.
Meat comes with spaghetti
It’s quite common to get a side of pasta (or sitting on) with your schnitzel, pork roast or other lunchtime meat. To me, it’s just a weird combination and \ reminds me of those cheesy, plastic-y instant pasta packets we used to eat with dinner when I was a kid. To be fair, as a kid I loved them!
Salad goes in a bowl, and you can eat it now
When eating out, there’s often a salad bar included. And kind of like picking chips off your plate before everyone gets their meal, it’s socially acceptable to hoe into your salad while everyone else is waiting. Many people will actually finish their salad before the main part of the meal comes out. Sometimes it even seems like the restaurant is waiting for you to finish it before they serve you something else.