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The Viennese Gastronomy

Dear friends of Generoso,
here are some details about the Viennese cuisine.
When the Viennese composer of operettas and conductor Oscar Straus travelled to America in the 30’s of the 20th century, in order to leave his mark on the stages of Hollywood with his film music, he took hope, courage as well as large ambitions with him – and Mizzi Scheithauer, because the American adventure was too risky for him without her cuisine.
„A bad mood disappears immediately, if a nice Viennese Schnitzel and some delicious plum dumplings entice with their delicious smell – that is was Oscar Straus told me each and every day, since I started to keep house for him. He was very happy about his Hollywood contract, but he became very unhappy when he thought about American food. I could not take his bad mood anymore. Mylord, I said, we cannot allow that. You cannot ruin your stomach over there, I’ll see to that. Now eat up your dumplings in peace and enjoy your milk coffee. Yes, but ..., stuttered Straus. No but, I’m coming with you and that’s that“, said Mizzi Scheithauer, leaving no doubts about the comprehensive effectivity of the Viennese cuisine (Interview in „Licht-Bild-Bühne“, 1931).
Even if frying breaded food in lard, boiling with marrow and baking with sugar contradicts the Zeitgeist, the Viennese cuisine proves ist hardheadedness. Nobody can convince anyone else, that they develop the same feelings for a plate of raw vegetables as for a crispy Schnitzel. Even if the Viennese nowadays love sushi, kebab and tramezzini – they would never give up their Tafelspitz (boiled beef), Kaiserschmarren und Burenwurst (typical Viennese sausage). On the contrary: There is a lot of room in the Viennese stomach.
History has already proved this, because the culinary Viennese success formula consists of the best kitchen secrets from Bohemia, Austria, Hungary and the Balkans. The result is a mixture of 2 dozen different types of boiled beef, three dozen types of Schnitzel, four dozen of coffee nuances and hundreds of desserts. A desk job was in those days as strange to the Viennese as the work of a ballad-monger, a laundress and an organ grinder in old Vienna to us today.
The need of hearty (and rich) food was accordingly higher.
The culinary Viennese blend – a mixture, born in the multi-national state – is middle-class imperial cuisine as well as refined rural fare. Starting from 1600 Italian influences were to be tasted – right up to this day: Risibisi (Venetian risi e bisi), eggplant, sweet chestnuts, biscuit (ladyfingers) etc. The French cuisine was slowly becoming accepted at the same time as the Court etiquette and the language of diplomacy. It was a bouillon and not soup that was being consumed. The Viennese cuisine is not as refined as the distinguished French cuisine, but it is versatile. People didn’t really warm to vegetables in old Vienna. They were carbohydrate kings instead with lots of imagination on how to shape things – you can find potatoes in the most amazing variations, dumplings, noodles and Nockerln, sweet and savoury.
The Viennese creativity goes far back into the past, to when the realm of the Habsburg emperors spanned the countries from Lake Constance tot he Carpathian Mountains, from the Elbe to the Drina. The imperial sovereigns all liked to eat well and that is why recipes from all over Southern Europe finally reached the Imperial capital.
Some of the old Viennese cuisine has been forgotten, time-consuming preparation methods and full time jobs just don’t fit together – daily cooking is often impossible nowadays and that is why semi-prepared or convenience foods are in demand. I have attempted to adapt the recipe ingredients and their prepartion to modern requirements in this book without reducing their authenticity.
I wish a lot of fun, enjoyment and pleasure during your journey through Vienna. If you need more information about restaurants, please check my page: www.gaultmillau.at

Karl Hohenlohe
Karl Hohenlohe
Founder of the Gault&Millau guide

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