Traditionally, this was the time of year when farmers completed their autumn wheat seeding, and slaughtered the fattened cattle before the winter.
But across Austria St Martin’s Day, and the weeks leading up to it, is marked by eating Martinigansl – roasted goose, served with aromatic chestnuts, red cabbage and fluffy bread dumplings. For many people the meal is just as important as Easter and Christmas dinner.
Traditionally, the day is also the occasion for naming the new wine of the year, so it has special significance for the wine regions and villages in Burgenland, around Lake Neusiedl.
St Martin of Tours started his life as a Roman soldier but was baptized as an adult and became a monk. One legend has it that he hid in a goose stall when he was summoned by the church to become a bishop, as he felt unworthy. But the geese cackled so loudly that Martin was found – and now geese are eaten on his name day.
In parts of Austria children celebrate Martinstag by carrying paper lanterns they have made in school, in an evening procession. In some places the lantern procession ends with a Martinsfeuer (bonfire).
If you’re planning to try Martinigansl in Vienna the Kurier newspaper recommends Rudi's Beisl, in the 5th district. Their goose is served with red cabbage, white cabbage and a choice of potato or bread dumplings for €19.90.
If you don’t eat meat then you could try the ‘goose’ at Gasthaus Schillinger, 2002 Großmugl, in Lower Austria. It’s made from seitan (wheat gluten), and served with an onion and marjoram jus, along with red cabbage and potato dumplings. Available from November 7th, for €11.80.
If you fancy a more luxurious dining experience then Gerstners Landhaus, in Vienna’s 19th district, is serving a three course meal for €29 from November 1st.
A goose broth with baked Kaiserschöberl croutons is followed by free-range goose breast with goose praline and red cabbage and Waldviertel dumplings. Dessert is sweet baked apple served with gingerbread foam. Mahlzeit!
Send us your Martinigansl recipes, photos, or restaurant tips.