So if you've been hanging around here for any length of time you will know that I am a devoted lover of food. One of my absolute favourite things about Europe is that where food is concerned, it's a no-strings-attached relationship. Are people here worried about their waistlines? Of course. This doesn't mean they treat food like it is some terrifying enemy that will make you fat. Because back home? I assure you the message that bombards you is food is only something to be sparingly enjoyed as a means to keep you alive, and if you can get all the nutrients you can out of supplements and smoothies without ever having to eat anything, EVEN BETTER.
Of course I exaggerate the last part, but the North American waistline obsession and corresponding distrust/guilt of enjoying whole foods is very real.
Dan and I found Vienna to be a wonderful city to expand your palete, and the favourite meal I had was a plate of buttery perch served alongside parsley potatoes with a wonderful green salad tossed in vinaigrette. Dan was all about the veal schnitzel and that was his preferred meal while we were there.
But our absolute favourite Viennese tastebud teaser?
The coffee and desserts.
I can't even tell you how amazing the coffee was. And Internet, I am a person who hated coffee two years ago, but after getting here and finding myself sick and tired of refusing the after-dinner coffee only to have my hosts be sent into a whirlwind of confusion and panic to offer me something else, I just started saying yes. Then I started liking it. Now Dan and I go for coffee every Saturday morning. And in Vienna, we made it a point to duck into coffee houses periodically throughout our days to warm up with a coffee and something sweet.
We always got one dessert and shared it, but this was always a mistake because we each always attacked the dessert while giving the other person the cut-eye if we thought they were eating more than their share.
Quiet table fights of, "That was my bite!" happened a lot.
(Also, it might just have been me doing that.)
The only thing we weren't prepared for is that it appears that Vienna still allows smoking indoors. There was only one restaurant we ate at that was smoke-free, and it was right in the tourist heart of Vienna. Maybe that had something to do with it? Catering to tourists? Who knows. But everywhere else allowed smoking, and it was really hard to get used to so much cigarette smoke in a confined area. I'm not one of those people who can't even stand people who smoke outside because seriously Major Control Freak, just move upwind. But being inside and dealing with smoke? Gross!
On our last night in Vienna we went to see a play, and after it got out we were both hungry but neither of us felt like sitting inside another smoky restaurant no matter how delicious the meal was going to be. So we decided to have one more culinary treat that we haven't had since moving to Switzerland: late night street vendor food. Because seriously, it was 11:00 p.m. and food stands and restaurants alike were open! People were serving food! Lots of different foods! It was glorious and very surreal, because did I mention it was 11:00 p.m. AND PLACES WERE OPEN.
We each grabbed our street vendor snack of choice (mine was a grilled eggplant sesame-pita stuffed with slabs of feta--yes, I said SLABS, oh joy, I wept--veggies, some hot peppers, and smothered in a lemon yogurt dressing; Dan's was a schnitzel burger) and raced back through the cold to our hotel room where we changed into our p.j.'s, noshed on some freaking glorious food, and watched classic WWF wrestling.
Now that's living.