I am not a big salt eater. I grew up on less salt partly due to the fact that high blood pressure is in our family, and salt is one thing that exacerbates this. I remember cooking with my mum as a kid, and whenever I read out the salt requirements for a recipe, she would wave it away and tell me it wasn’t necessary. Hence, my taste buds have been conditioned to not require as much salt as the average person. And I was fine with that.
When I was in the Ukraine a few years ago I remember being surprised by how much dill was in everything. Every dish had dill in and on it. Well, it seems that in many countries and cultures there is a ‘spice of choice’. And in Austria, their spice of choice is definitely… cumin.
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.