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FOOD & DRINK

Hungary cheesed off over food ‘double standards’

Hungary on Monday announced an inquiry after a study by the food safety agency suggested many food products sold with identical packaging were superior in neighbouring Austria.

Hungary cheesed off over food 'double standards'
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Products made by food giants including Unilever and Nestle, from chocolate spreads to packet soups, were seemingly tastier, creamier or bigger in Austria, according to a study of 24 brands by Hungary's food safety authority.

“This is primarily a moral question, not a legal one,” said Robert Zsigo, a government official responsible for supermarket oversight.

The inspections will compare the quality of 100 identically branded products in Hungarian and foreign shops, Zsigo told reporters in Budapest.

The food agency's report, seen by AFP on Monday, looked at the taste, composition and packaging information of products at the Spar, Metro, Lidl and Aldi chains in Hungary and Austria.

Among a list of discrepancies, the agency said the version of Nutella, the children's favourite chocolate-and-hazelnut spread from Ferrero, appeared to be “less creamy” than the Austria version.

The aroma of Coca-Cola was seemingly “less rich, less complex” in Hungary, the agency said, while the flavour of Nestle's Nesquik cocoa powder was “more harmonious and intense” in Austria.

And the report said some of Unilever's Knorr packet soups in Hungary were found to contain about 20 percent less powder than in Austria, despite identical packaging.

Their “Carbonara” product also contained three different types of cheese ingredients in Austria, compared with none in Hungary.

“Hungarians want fair treatment… not double standards,” Zsigo said. 

He said the first results of the wider inspection could be announced next month.

A comparison conducted in December found similar findings for Slovakia.

FOOD & DRINK

How did the Wiener Schnitzel become an Austrian icon?

Despite being Austria's national dish, the origins of the Wiener Schnitzel lie further south. Here's the story of how the breaded meat dish came to popularity in Austria.

How did the Wiener Schnitzel become an Austrian icon?

The Wiener Schnitzel might be almost as famous at the city of Vienna itself; so much so the BBC says the Wiener Schnitzel “defines Vienna”. 

It turns out however that the dish was not invented in Austria at all. 

Even though there is Wiener (Viennese) in the title, the schnitzel actually originated from Milan in Italy as cotoletta alla Milanese, although the original recipe used a thicker cut of meat and was cooked with the bone in.

How did the Wiener Schnitzel become an Austrian icon?

As with many stories delving into Austrian history, the tale of the Wiener Schnitzel involves royalty, mythology and nobility. 

The story goes that Czech nobleman and Austrian Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky brought the recipe back to Vienna from Milan in 1857 after a trip there during the Habsburg rule.

READ MORE: Which Austrian cheeses are protected foods and why?

Radetzky described the dish as a “deliciously breaded veal cutlet” and the emperor requested the recipe. It was a huge success and the schnitzel quickly became popular across Vienna.

Today, the humble schnitzel is the country’s national dish and a key part of Austria’s culture.

You can even find it in cafes and bakeries as a sandwich version called Schnitzelsemmel, which is a schnitzel served in a bread roll.

What is a Wiener Schnitzel?

In case there are some readers out there that are unfamiliar with the Wiener Schnitzel, it is a piece of veal that is breaded and fried, then served with potatoes and a wedge of lemon. 

National Geographic describes the dish as “unassuming” but don’t let that fool you. The schnitzel dominates most menus in Austria and can even be found in restaurants specialising in international cuisine.

The schnitzel is also popular in households across the country, but outside of restaurants it is often cooked with pork instead of expensive veal.

READ ALSO: Caffeine, war and Freud: A history of Vienna’s iconic coffee houses

How to make Wiener Schnitzel

Impressing your Austrian friends with a homemade Wiener Schnitzel is easy.

Simply pound the meat (veal or pork) to an even thinness. Then dip it in flour, followed by egg and breadcrumbs. Fry the meat until it is golden brown. You want it to be crispy but not burnt.

Serve with boiled potatoes and a lemon wedge. A side of cranberry sauce is optional but recommended.

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