This week has marked the one year anniversary of me relocating to Vorarlberg, and so it got me reflecting on my time here. Therefore I thought I would write a Foreigners take on Austrian Food: Part 2, as there is so much more I have experienced in the last year.One of the best things about moving back to Europe has been experiencing a ‘proper’ Christmas. None of this playing cricket on the beach in 40 degree heat, or sending chrsitmas cards to family back home with surfing santas on. Christmas in Austria really does feel special (see my last blog post: Christmas in Vorarlberg). As the snow begins to fall, the decorations are hung and the markets come out in full force. After speaking to a friend back in Australia and telling them that I spent the night at the Christmas markets, I realised that the concept is actually quite funny. We put on as many layers as we can, to go and stand outside in the freezing cold with a million other people and drink. But how good is it.
Glühwein is drunk by the bucket load and you can order a Zack Zack Sandwich, just because of it’s awesome name and it tastes pretty good too (this is a meat sandwich with the most amazing sauce). Bratwurst is also consumed like its going out of fashion, however this is still something I struggle with. Being English I am used to when you order a sausage and bread (aka a hot dog ), the sausage is served in the bread, with the sauce, and usually onions, on top, hence making it easier to eat. Therefore, I have always struggled to understand why they make it so hard for you to enjoy a good bratwurst here. Serving it on a paper plate, with a round semmel roll separately, so you can’t even fit the sausage in the roll if you tried. There is no way to eat these with one hand, so the least hungry of the group gets the job of holding the drinks, unless you are one of the lucky few to get a table.
Christmas is not the only time you find markets on in Vorarlberg. They need no excuse to host a good market or festival. Throughout the year you will find the Spring and Autumn markets, Kurbis Fest (pumpkin), Feuerwehr Festival (firefighter), Ziegen Markt (goat market), need I continue? What I have learnt is that most of time these events are more about going there to drink than actually what they are celebrating.
Going to your local market is also not the only way to find great local produce here, you just need to know the right people. Going to the supermarket to buy food is so last century. In the last year we have bought the most tasty cheese and sausages directly from work colleagues that my boyfriend knows and who run farms on the side and we have recently received our eagerly awaited order of Yak meat . If you know the right people, you can buy anything. Its like the underground society of Vorarlberg, “I can get you 5kg of Yak meat for a great price”. We have only made Yak Goulash so far, but it was delicious.
I never realised Austria was quite that into cheese before moving here. Any excuse to eat this, breakfast, lunch or dinner and in any form really. Melting cheese really only extended to cheese on toast and if I was feeling particularly adventurous I added a bit of Worchester Sauce. However, melted cheese is taken to a whole new level here, where the melting of the cheese is part of the eating experience. I have yet to try a cheese fondue, but the Rachlette (originating in Switzerland I believe) is one that I have. With each person getting their own mini pan you can melt as much cheese as you want while your choice of meat is being cooked on the top. Add in vegetables and some potatoes or fresh bread and you can
spend hours sitting around the dinner table with friends and family. It is a really sociable way to eat.
If you are hosting an event, I have also heard that you can buy a large amount of cheese (for example a wheel of cheese) and with that you can hire a melting device. So you cut the cheese in half and it sits in this device and it melts the top of the cheese. This can then be scrapped off onto bread with a variety of other toppings (so just fancy cheese on toast really, but done in style).
There has been a lot of highs and lows over the last year and I do miss a lot of things:
- Campos coffee, my favourite coffee that cannot be delivered to Austria
- being able to not have to adapt recipes as I can’t find self raising flour, or not having to stand in Spar in the herbs and spices aisle using Leo on my phone to translate my ingredients.
- cider at affordable prices.
However I have also been able to experience some amazing new things and been introduced to a whole new culture and lots of new traditions. It has been a rollercoaster of a ride settling in to my new life, but with the daunting feeling of finding my way in a whole new country behind me, I am looking forward to enjoying the years to come.