Mealtimes in Austria
Breakfast in Austria usually comprises of what is know as a “continental breakfast”, consisting of bread rolls with jam or a selection of cold meat and cheeses,accompanied by coffee, tea, chocolate milk or juice. Breakfast has become a more substantial meal now as, unlike earlier times, the midday meal is no longer the main meal of the day as modern times make it more difficult for people to go home for lunch.
A snack taken mid morning or mid afternoon, known as a Jause, comprises of an open sandwich topped with meat or cheese. When walking in the mountains you will come across mountain farms open to visitors to stop for a Brettljause, which is normally served on a wooden platter and offers a selection of their own home-made cheeses, smoked hams and sausages accompanied with pickles and sliced local bread. Sausages are a quick snack, and are found everywhere in Austria along the roads in towns and cities. The selection of sausages on offer will vary from region to region, as they all have their own speciality. In the smaller eating establishments sausages will be served, traditionally, with potato salad and again the recipe of the salad will vary with the region. The most popular bread rolls in Austria are known as Semmels, these are baked fresh every day. These Semmels can be bought in butchers shops and in shops with a slice of Leberkäse ( a type of baked meat loaf) which is served hot and is eaten in place of a normal sandwich when you just need a snack on the go. Leberkäse is normally served in its traditional way but is also now available with cheese oozing from it or with paprika pieces baked into it.
The Midday meal was the most important meal of the day and throughout Austria Sirens would sound at noon to signal the start of the midday break which would last two hours. Schools would close and so would all shops and businesses. Having a midday meal together as a family was a very important part of Austrian life. Unfortunatly modern life has changed a lot of the old traditional ways and although many people still take the time to get together for their midday meal there are many others for whom this is now impossible due to work. When travelling through Austria and taking lunch in one of the many restaurants you will not be disappointed with the selection of food that is on offer and with the high quality of the produce. The midday meal is as important in the restaurants as is the evening meal.
The Austrian people are very sociable people and love to get together with family and friends at mealtimes, whether it be in a restaurant or at home. Also getting together for meals is not limited to summertime, when outdoor eating is popular, but also any time of the year is good, even with snow thick on the ground, they will go to each others houses or meet at their favourite restaurant and spend hours eating and talking, and with the good food on offer this is hardly surprising.
Meeting for coffee and cake,in one of the many bakeries in Austria, features strongly in Austrian life. It is also quite common for Austrians to invite friends and neighbours over for coffee and cake, this can be compared to English afternoon tea tradition. The selection of mouthwatering cakes and pastries on offer is just too hard to resist. Also the coffee in Austria is served in a variety of styles, particularly in the Viennese cafés. Traditionally,coffee is served with a glass of still water.
The beer in Austria features strongly and is very good. It varies with not only the region , but also the town or city,many of which have their own breweries. Most of the beers are a light “lager” type of beer, but there are also speciality beers which are dark and strong tasting and are more popular in the winter months. Other beers include wheat beer and Bock beer, which is sold at Christmas and Easter time.
Austrian wine is cultivated,mainly, in the east of Austria. The most important areas being Lower Austria, Burgenland, Styria and Vienna. The Grüner Veltliner grape provides Austria’s most notable white wines and Zweigelt is the most widely planted red wine grape. Vienna is Europe’s only capital city where wine is grown within the city limits.Young wine, Heuriger, is a wine produced from the most recent harvest. To finish off a meal a small schnapps or fruit brandy is taken. These are flavoured from a variety of fruits such as apricots or herbs or flowers. Schnapps is high in alcohol, usually around 60%, and is produced in small private distilleries of which there are around 20,000 in Austria.
A soft drink named Almdudler, is a drink based on mountain herbs and tastes rather like elderflower. It is considered to be the national drink of Austria and is popularly used as a mixer with white wine. We could not write a section on foods and drink of Austria without mentioning Hot Chocolate! Viennese hot chocolate is very rich,using real chocolate and topped off with lashings of whipped cream, delicious!
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