Like any other country, food is a huge part of what defines Austrian culture, and over the past seven months of my study abroad program I have had the pleasure of trying a lot of these traditional/touristy foods. Many of these dishes include a lot of flour, cheese, marille (apricot), butter, sugar, or meat — basically everything your doctor tells you to avoid.
I’m rambling too much about food — typical me. Let’s get cracking on this list of 10 foods to try in Austria.
Knödel are basically boiled dumplings made out of a Tophen Teig (fresh cheese dough), typically with a filling of choice. There are so many kinds of knödel which is why it makes it to the top of my list. There are two groups of this famous dish — salzig and süßes.
Salzig (salty) knödel can include:
Of the süße (sweet) group, knödel can include:
Almdudler is a beloved soft drink made in Austria. It has a famous red label with a photo of a man and woman wearing traditional clothing, holding glasses of what I assume to be Almdudler, with a mountain landscape in the background. This drink is made of Alpine herbs (lemon balm, sage, gentian, elderflower and coneflower), natural beet sugar and fresh spring water. There are also new flavors such as holunder, mint and Gespritzt with lemon.
The company’s slogan is:
After becoming totally addicted to this drink, I think it’s safe to say that is a relatable slogan.
(Käse) Leberäse looks almost like meatloaf. It is baked into a bread pan until it has a golden-brown crust. The word Leberkäse literally translates to liver/meat cheese. It’s ironic because the only time it has cheese in it (or at least in my experience) is when you order a Käse Leberkäse (cheese liver/meat cheese). The best way to eat it is with a semmel roll. At first I was highly suspicious of this snack, but now I order one once a week for a quick lunch.
Käsekrainer is basically a sausage with cheese inside of it. I wasn’t a huge red meat fan before I came to Austria, but now I can’t imagine my life without Käsekrainer. It tastes especially good with senf (mustard).
Would this even be a proper blog post about Austrian foods if I didn’t mention Schnitzel? The answer is nein (no). I admit I’ve only had Schnitzel once or twice, but I still place it on my top list. Schnitzel is a meat that is pounded thin with a meat tenderizer, then coated in flour, eggs and breadcrumbs and fried in an oil or fat. This results in a heavenly masterpiece. There are veal, mutton, chicken, beef, turkey or pork schnitzels.
If you, too, are a huge donut fan, then this pastry is right up your alley. Krapfen are powdered donuts usually filled with apricot marmalade. There are other kinds of krapfen such as chocolate or custard, but marille (apricot) will forever remain the number one favorite in Austria.
Manner produces a wide range of confectionery products, but the most common are the Manner wafers. You may have seen them in the States at your local grocery store. They have a square pink package with the blue Manner logo on it. Not ringing a bell? Pity! My personal favorite are the Orangen Herzen (Orange Hearts). They are wafers shaped like hearts, filled with orange creme. It’s actually strange because I’ve noticed that Manner wafers cost more in grocery stores than at the actual Manner shop. When you’re done touring St.Stephan’s Cathedral, I recommend stopping by the Manner shop right next to it for a snack. You will not leave disappointed.
No, it does not contain ham (Schinken). Palatschinken are flat pancakes similar to a french crepe. For this pancake, you probably should not put butter and maple syrup on top. Instead, once again consider the perennial favorite Austrian filling marille (apricot). After seeing the word marille at least six times in this post, this should come as no surprise. After they are rolled, it’s best to sprinkle a layer of powdered sugar on top.
Kaiserschmarrn translates to “Emperor’s Mess” in English. This dish’s name derives from Austrian emperor, Kaiser Franz Joseph I, who loved this delicacy. It is a fluffy, shredded pancake (almost) that can be prepared in a numerous of ways. Traditionally, raisins soaked in rum are added to the Kaiserschmarrn just before cooking. When finished, it is sprinkled with powdered sugar and fruit compotes, such as plum jam.
Last but not least: the Sacher Torte. I admit I have only had this delicious treat once (due to how expensive it can be). This chocolate torte can is typically sold in Hotel Sacher and in other little cafes around Vienna. It is two layers of soft and light chocolate cake separated by apricot jam (once again) and coated with a chocolate icing. This is one dessert you don’t want to miss.
Some of these suggestions are not diet-friendly, but I have no regrets. I’m glad I’m getting the chance to learn about another culture through new foods. And who doesn’t love food? It makes me cringe when I think about returning to American fast foods in less than four months. The first thing I’m doing when I get back to Chicago is search for Austrian foods!