Austrian Cuisine

Speaking of "Austrian", culturally or ethnically is almost a joke. They all seem to speak their own kind of German, and that is pretty much where the similarities end. To a large extent, it is the riotous melting pot that makes the particular notion of "Austrian cuisine" a special meaning. One should not confuse the sensibilities and culture of Vienna and Salzburg with the rest of Austria. It's a complicated universe that refuses to conform to our neat little linguistical pigeonholes by which we suppose to "understand" things.

Since Austrians speak German, one might think that Austrian Cuisine is essentially German. Cute reasoning, with the same level of epistemological validity as sympathetic magic - and, of course, enticingly wrong. It is one of the instances where the exception to foolish logic proves the foolishness.

Berlin was not surrounded by Turkish troops in the 14th century, but Vienna was, and a simple distinction can be made thereby.

If you want to see later and remaining Turkish influences in Vienna, try "Die Entführung aus dem Serail" of Mozart.

Austrian cuisine, epitomized by Viennese cuisine, is flooded with Turkish delicacies, particularly in the department of sweets and desserts (various "Strudel") The rest is a kind of Gallosized Germanic cooking, e.g. Wienerschnitzel (Viennese cutlette). Culinarily, the concept is well understood in France, Germany, Austria and Hungary, as well as Italy and just about any other country you would care to name. It is easy, simple and quick to prepare, and also makes a first order approximation to a process of accounting for tough meat: an old problem that has now reasserted itself by the ukases, deceits of modern corporatized governments by idiots.

No, it really does not have to be like shoeleather, and shoeleather is not good for you to eat, regardless of what your AMA cowed physician might claim. Among other things, having to eat it is quite irritating and not goot for your psychological wellbeing.

The original "Wienerschnitzle" idea was, of course, "veal", but in the US, veal being prohibitive except to the Bushes, Cheneys and their drooling repto cousins, we humans substitute chicken breasts, turkey breasts when we are allowed to have them, that are nicely saturated with estrogenic hormones and antibiotics because that is all we can afford. Everybody has to die of something, and it usually is historically something created by drooling ruling parasitic government. It is a long (Millennial) standing rape, so relax and enjoy what time you and your children have left - hmmm - or not. It is your choice. In the meantime, learn to make good food from sparse pickings.

There was, of course, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which changed everything, both in Austria and Hungary.

Where German cuisine tends to a robust subtlety, Austrian Cuisine is downright sumptuous, borrowing as it has, an earlier Byzantine style and menu of ingredients from the invading Ottoman Turks in the 14th century. The height of such delectatiousness is found quite naturally in Vienna, where the causual addendum "mit Schlag", so typically Viennese, arises. That is to say, "mit Schlagsahne" (with whipped cream). It seems to be of Viennese origin, and an item that has been salivatingly, if not physically droolingly, very much accepted in much of the world.

I have the odd feeling that the French would like to believe they have invented whipped cream, and so are not so hesitant to use that which might be impurely nonfrench. In fact, the French (well, some French, anyhow) do claim that it was invented by François Vatel (1631-1671) for a banquet in honor of Louis XIV. It is a cutely dramatic story, but fairly ridiculous historically. The Persians had been making what amounts to whipped cream filled cream puffs for a few centuries before that. So much for the French having also invented a pâté choux. Weetened whipped cream, from Persians to Turks, to Austrians and Hungarians, etc. Maybe Vatel was independently inspired? I doubt it: he was a great chef, no idiot, and knew very well what was going on in his own back yard.

Some things are much older than we would think, other things are much newer, and not so classical than we might think. The Chinese were making sorbets long before the French were even Franks who spoke a Germanic language; the world is a strange and place, filled will commonly accepted and deliberately fabricated illusions. There is more of that going on than you can imagine.





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