Austrian Food: Kaiserschmarrn
Austrian food and cuisine have been influenced historically by its surrounding European nations like Germany, Hungary, Italy and Bohemia. But if you ask any local what the best of Austrian food is, they will likely tell you it’s the Wiener Schnitzel. There are many variations to the Wiener Schnitzel, but it is basically a veal cutlet that is breaded in bread crumbs, dipped in flour & egg, and then deep fried. If you want the schnitzel to be a golden brown color then you can add butter in with the mix when you deep fry the meat. In Austria, the Wiener Schnitzel is considered to be the national dish of the country. The only real difference between Wiener Schnitzel and other forms of schnitzel is the type of meat used. Wiener Schnitzel uses veal, but other countries around Europe and throughout the world use pork and chicken instead. The reason for this has to do with the cost of the meat rather than anything else. Pork and chicken are much cheaper meats to produce from livestock than veal. That is why Wiener Schnitzels will be one of the more expensive food dishes on the menu, but is still great to have if you are a tourist. In Germany, on the other hand, Wiener Schnitzel is also a tradition, but you will generally get it at a much lower price.
The side dishes that are normally served with Wiener Schnitzel are usually salads or fruits. There is an Austrian salad called Kopfsalat that often gets served with it. This salad is made of lettuce that gets tossed with onions, chopped chives and sweet vinaigrette dressing. Other side dish options commonly found in the country are cucumber salad, potato salad and parsley potatoes. If you go to an Americanized establishment then you can get French fries and rice with your Wiener Schnitzel. However, if you are a tourist then you should try to eat cuisine that stays as close to the Austrian culture as possible. This makes the trip more authentic and gives you an experience that you cannot get at home. But if you are not a tourist and want to make Wiener Schnitzel from your own location, all you need is veal, eggs, flour, bread crumbs, butter and a deep fryer. Of course, it is not recommended that you eat this all the time because the butter and fried meat is not healthy. But if you were to have this once a week at home or on a vacation to Austria, then it is excusable… and you will quickly find out why Wiener Schnitzel is the national dish of Austria.
Austrians are also among the world champions when it comes to desserts. Two sweet dishes stand out in particular:
First of all, the Palatschinken, which we also call pancake or crepe, and is actually very similar to the French crepes. It is generally much thinner than the American style pancake and rolled up, with something inside. It can contain something savoury, but as a dessert, it will be something sweet: ice cream, jam, Nutella, fruit (with sugar!), or some Grand Marnier. In addition, it will often come with Schlagobers (that’s how the Austrians call whipped cream) on top, to make it even richer and sweeter. An absolute must have when you visit Austria.
The second Austrian dessert you shouldn’t miss is the Kaiserschmarrn, which stands for the Emperor’s shredded pancake. However the word Schmarrn can also be used in colloquial language to refer to somebody’s folly, as Kaiser Franz Joseph absolutely loved that dish.
Last but not least – all those dished can be found in most Austrian restaurants, whether high end, Michelin starred (in which case there will be some sophistication added to it, the portions might be smaller and the prices higher!) or somewhere in a street or mountain cafe. They certainly don’t need to be expensive to be filling and tasty – so don’t think twice and enjoy! You will need the sugar rush after a long day of backpacking and travelling.
Austrian Food: Palatschinken