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GERMANY, AUSTRIA, SWITZERLAND

nese cuisine could be expressed in a few words, then it has been captured succinctly in Joseph Wechsberg’s es- say “Tafelspitz for the Hofrat,” which describes in minute detail the art of preparing a very special Viennese, and only Viennese, cut of beef.

The third theme in the evolution of Viennese cook-

ery is the Heurigen. These are extremely informal family- owned snack-houses whose primary function is to sell light foods to accompany year-old local wines. Authen- tic Heurigen are owned by small-scale vintners who sell their own wines and no other. When the houses are open, the owners hang a pine branch or a wreath of evergreens over the door. Menus consist of cold cuts, bread, sausage, walnuts, perhaps even some home-cooked food, but the meals are not considered dinner. After the close of the business day, Viennese flee to the countryside to spend a relaxed evening in their favorite Heurigen. This social institution is very firmly established, but there are also faux Heurigen whose primary clientele is tourists seeking out “the Heurigen experience.” These houses are easy to spot because they are surrounded by buses and cars with foreign license plates.

There are over 140,000 acres of vineyards through- out Austria, mostly planted in the native Grüner Veltliner (for white wine). This has given rise to Heurigen far be- yond the Viennese countryside. While this development is doubtless good business for small places in out-of-the- way locations and is especially beneficial to large com- mercial wineries, the two institutions are not the same. For Viennese, the Heurigen experience represents a momen- tary return to the countryside, a reality check against the oversophistication of city life and an opportunity to taste “real” Austrian food of the sort grandmother used to make. This interest in culinary roots is something that took shape after World War I, after the country shrank to its present size, and especially after the coming of the automobile, which made evening trips to the country possible.

It is significant that Katharina Prato’s great Austrian

classic Süddeutsche Küche (South German cookery), which first appeared at Graz in 1858 and passed through more than seventy editions, made no mention of Austrian cui- sine. Prato was from an aristocratic family, and her world view, like that of other Austrians of her day, encompassed the empire and its most refined culinary riches, not the food of the peasants. By degrees, the Heurigen have taken this view in the opposite direction, and this has moved hand-in-hand with Austrian scholarship on the country’s most interesting traditional foods and customs.

The list of individuals who have contributed to the formation of a new Austrian culinary identity is indeed long, but two names do stand head and shoulders above the rest. They are Ernst Burgstaller and Anni Gamerith. Both were scholars with an ethnographic approach to their subject, although Gamerith was also intensely in- terested in traditional horticulture and actively helped to preserve endangered heirloom food plants. Burgstaller’s Österreichisches Festtagsgebäck (Austrian festive breads and

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FOOD AND CULTURE

pastries) is a model of what can be learned about a coun- try by studying its foods on a village-by-village basis. Burgstaller’s maps outlining regional customs and foods have formed the basis for many regional food studies that have followed, such as Brigitte and Siegfried W. de Rachewiltz’s Tiroler Brot (Tyrolean bread). On the other hand, Gamerith’s literary output was huge, and many of her studies take a holistic approach to food. Lebendiges Ganzkorn (Living grain) followed the entire story of whole-food grains in Steiermark, their agricultural his- tory, the old horticultural knowledge surrounding their planting and harvest, the old methods of milling and stor- age, and finally, their conversion into food and bread, in- cluding recipes.

Food in Austria today. Gamerith’s approach may have

been influenced to some extent by the writings of Rudolf Steiner, whose theories on biodynamic agriculture not only originated in Austria, but are still widely practiced there to one degree or another. Because of the lack of large open agricultural lands, Austrian farmers have con- centrated on intensive agriculture on small plots of land. Organic farming is extremely popular, and the country supplies a large amount of its own food. Interest in heir- loom fruits and vegetables is high and is well-coordinated under the grass-roots organization Arche Noah (Noah’s Ark), which is headquartered at Schloss Schiltern. The most recent trend in Vienna’s leading restaurants has been a turn away from the old imperial cuisine so popu- lar with tourists, and the placement of new emphasis on seasonal local produce and traditional cooking methods. Thus the cuisine of the countryside is now finding new status on high-end menus in the creative hands of nu- merous young chefs.

Tourism still plays an important role in Austrian cookery, but the differences between native Austrian fare and what tourists consume are growing ever wider. Travel writers and food journalists created a Viennese ex- perience that the tourist still seeks out, such as a requi- site slice of Sachertorte, a dish of Kaiserschmarrn, coffee at Demels, and the ever-present tins of Mozartkugeln (chocolate balls). This is culture for outsiders, a carica- ture of Austria as highly packaged and as devoid of “au- thenticity” as the blaring echoes of The Sound of Music that roll through the cobblestone streets of Salzburg every summer day.

Switzerland

Modern Switzerland began in 1291 with the confedera- tion of the three original cantons: Uri, Schwyz, and Un- terwalden. After that the confederation grew piecemeal fashion with the addition of several new cantons after the Swiss declared independence from foreign domination in 1648. The last cantons to join the confederation were Neuchâtel, Valais, and Genève in 1815. This created the modern borders of the country. Today there are twenty- three cantons, the largest being Graubünden, Ticino, Valais, Berne, and Vaud. While the country has four

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