Saturday, August 2, 2008

Exploring Food in Vienna

As the last post was titled, Professor Kelley Participates in World Justice Forum in Vienna, this post might well be titled, Professor Schneider Eats in Vienna! I suppose that since I am a food law professor, I can justify my Viennese food exploration as almost work related. But, the truth of the matter is that while Christopher was hard at work at the forum, I had the fantastic opportunity explore the beautiful city of Vienna. And, while I could describe what a beautiful city Vienna is, or I could discuss its wonderful history of music, as is so often the case when I travel, I found the food culture to be of great interest. So that will be the focus of my brief tribute to this wonderful city.

Much of my experience can be summed up with the statement, "Food and drink are to be appreciated, consumed slowly, and thoroughly enjoyed." And, when the weather is nice - they are to be consumed outside - in parks, at lovely sidewalk cafes and at markets. What a fine tradition!

Consider the coffee. No drive-thru paper cups of coffee sloshed down on the go. The coffee house is a Viennese institution. And I was told that the Viennese take their coffee very seriously. Melange is the native preference, a delicious mixture of very strong, rich coffee and frothed milk which I thoroughly enjoyed. It is served in a cup and saucer on a small plate or tray along with a glass of water and a small biscuit or wrapped chocolate. Of course, many coffeehouses also sold wonderful pastries as a perfect accompaniment.

My interest in local food led me to converse with a delightful Viennese woman who was selling her families' homemade sausage at a kiosk in a small market area. I asked her to select my lunch for me, and she chose wisely: the most wonderful sausage I have ever tasted, fried new potatoes and home made sauerkraut. Oh, and of course Austrian beer. Although I admit that it would have been enough for me to eat for both lunch and dinner, it was delicious.

Although this lunch was had a small market area in the midst of the quiet historic downtown, the Naschmarkt is Vienna's most famous and surely the liveliest food market. This fascinating market includes vendors selling all types of food, flowers, herbs, and beverages in a friendly, busy atmosphere. Market vendors intermix with cafes and street musicians entertain - truly a fun experience.

Vienna is a fascinating city with wonderful food experiences for tourist and regular alike. I am pleased I was able to visit and hope to return again.

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