Thursday, July 18, 2013

etwas Süßes (something sweet)

Student question #4: Can you "cake" in Austria?

There is something visceral about connecting to people through food. I have found that my students consistently have a sincere interest in experiencing the cuisine of the culture that they are learning about. Students beg for it. Colleagues angle for it. Parents anxiously wait for it. "When are we going to have a food day?" they scream!

I used to feel put off by this question, because I felt that the students were just using food as an excuse to have a day free from grammar, reading, writing, and listening, you know, THINKING! However, upon reflection, I think that my students do want to experience the culture that they are learning about in a tangible, authentic way, and food is an easy vehicle for that. It does not require us to buy expensive, unreliable airline tickets or to pack suitcases with too many pairs of socks and not enough toothpaste. All we need is a recipe, a little money for a trip to the grocery, and the courage to put it all together into a dish that we can share with others. 

Spending 18 days in Austria gave me the opportunity to select and taste many different dishes than I had had before in Germany. Austrian food during the summer months is a celebration of seasonal fruits. Apricots, cherries, plums, blueberries, lemons, and apples all were stars of the show. So, to answer my students' question from above: Yes, you can kuchen in Austria, and you can strudel, and you can parfait, and you can eis, and you can scheiterhaufen, and you can mousse, and you can knödel, and that's just the beginning.

Desserts from my 18 days in Austria, 2013
Pictured from left to right:
row 1
  • selection of Kuchen at the terrace café at the top of the Hafelekar summit
  • Scheiterhaufen mit Vanillesauce at Café Diglas in Vienna
  • Eis put together in the shape of a flower from the Amorino Café in Graz
  • Schokoladenmousse at lunch at the seminar house in Innsbruck
  • selection of Strudel at the terrace café at the top of the Hafelekar summit
  • the Schlossberg restaurant's take on a Schwarzwälderkirschparfait
  • a Nussschnecke from the Marché market at the airport
  • Strauben from our "Steirisches Buffet" in Graz at the convent house
row 2
  •  Mohnnudeln, Marillenknödel, and Powidltscherl that we made ourselves at our cooking demo
  • selection of Torten at the Stiftskeller at the monastery in Admont
  • Heidelbeerenkuchen at the seminar house in Innsbruck
  • Kirschmarmorkuchen at the Stiftskeller in Admont
  • Zitronenmousse at the seminar house in Innsbruck
  • Eis (Kirsch & Stracciatella) from the famous Zanoni & Zanoni Café in Vienna
  • an entire tray full of Scheiterhaufen at Café Diglas in Vienna
  • Apfelstrudel at Café Sperl in Vienna

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