Austria is well known for many different types of food – some you will definitely have heard of: strudel, schnitzel, goulash etc. Each region also has specialties they call their own. Though consider that Austria has nine states in a total of 84,000km² (compare that to Australia’s 8 in 7.7million km²) – this means that a dish ‘local’ to one area is very often found in other places too.
I live in the state of Carinthia (Kärnten) and I work in the state of Steiermark (Styria), so I’m familiar with quite a few.
My hubby and I love food. We love to look at it, smell it, taste it, savour it and gobble it down. We also like to try as many different things as possible, so it’s probably not surprising that we often share food or go halvsies when we go out for dinner.
When someone’s celebrating an occasion in Austria (birthdays, someone’s last work day etc.) and keeping it low key and easy, they might simply invite a few people over for a bite to eat, or in the case of a work environment, bring something along to share with colleagues (including the mandatory prosecco, of course, because we are in Austria). Quite often there will be cakes, pastries and other standard things you might expect. But there could also be something you were not expecting: a giant pretzel sandwich.
Australia Day has different meanings for different people. For indigenous Australians it has always been steeped in unpleasantness, but that’s not what I’m here to discuss. I’m here to tell you that Australia Day for me was never about the arrival or subsequent invasion of the British. For me, Australia Day has, at least from when I was a teenager, been about the Hottest 100.
The word Krapfen may sound like a swear word. But in simple terms it’s just the Austrian version of a donut. My favourite donut of all time is the classic hot jam variety, best sourced from a roadside truck or market in a pack of 6 (buy 5 get one free), so hot you burn your tongue and so sugary it can’t be eaten indoors.
Austrian’s go crazy for Krapfen. But while they may look like a donut, they have a different kind of dough – it’s denser than the classic hot jam, but somehow still manages to be fluffy. And there’s no hole. Krapfen are available all year round, but they also have a ‘season’ – basically as soon as you hit November 11 – marking the beginning of Fasching – they are everywhere.
One regretful random afternoon in Austria, hubby and I were out shopping and decided to nick in to one of the many supermarket cafes they have here. I won’t say anything bad about these places – they have good, standard fare, it’s generally cheap, and they almost always have a salad bar – man I love Austrian salad bars!
But on this particular day, when I was pondering what to order, hubby made a suggestion for me – Herrengoulasch. Sounds interesting, methinks, so that’s what I went with.
When you’re a kid, you kind of just assume that whatever your family does, it must be the same as what everyone else’s families do. This can lead to some awkward moments – an offhand comment and suddenly everyone’s staring at you like you’re mad.
When I was younger, I had no idea that my family’s favourite desserts were at all weird.