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Food and Drink For Members

The Austrian eating habits the world could learn from

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
The Austrian eating habits the world could learn from
Photo: Fauxels/Pexels.com.

Austrian cuisine may not be the first thing that comes to mind for those looking for top gastronomic experiences, but Austrians have several excellent habits when it comes to dining that the world could do well to learn from.

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Austrian food is certainly controversial, with national dishes such as the Wiener Schnitzel being both beloved or despised by foreigners who try it. Even the Sachertorte, a cake chocolatey cake with apricot jam, is seen by some as underwhelming and dry. Yet, at the same time, some foreigners will swear by the Wiener goulash.

Even if you don't love all the popular dishes, it's a fact that people in Austria have developed some healthy and good eating habits. From the importance of enjoying their meals to keeping the social aspect of food and emphasising quality and fresh ingredients, here are some eating habits Austrians have that we could learn from.

Eating a healthy breakfast 

Austrians start the day with a heavy and nutritious breakfast, usually including some bread, veggies, and a cooked egg.

A traditional and full Austrian breakfast often includes a variety of whole grain bread or rolls, accompanied by an assortment of toppings such as cheeses, cold cuts, jams, honey, and spreads. Fresh fruits, yoghurt, and muesli are also popular choices.

Of course, you will also see plenty of hurried people in Austria whose breakfast seems to be a can of  Red Bull and some cigarettes while waiting for the Strassenbahn, but let's focus on the healthy and filling types of breakfast you can find here.

READ ALSO: Five things you will find in (almost) every Austrian home

Eating local and seasonal fruits and veggies

Austrians have a strong appreciation for seasonal and locally sourced fruits and vegetables, which is reflected in their eating habits. 

Embracing the concept of "farm-to-table," many prioritise consuming fresh produce that is in season and sourced from local farmers - "bio" fruits and vegetables are also very popular.

In fact, the food is so connected to seasons that it's hard to tell if they are looking forward to strawberries and asparagus or spring and summer months.

READ ALSO: Eight Austrian food mistakes you only make once

During the summer, people in Austria enjoy fruits such as strawberries, cherries, apricots, and raspberries, prominently featured in desserts, jams, and fruit salads.

As the seasons transition, people in the Alpine Republic will swap for autumnal produce. September and October are the time for locally grown apples and pears, as well as earthy vegetables like pumpkins, carrots, and beets.

Food is also often eaten as fresh as possible. Austrians usually go to the supermarket once a day or every other day for fresh produce instead of doing extensive monthly shopping and relying too much on frozen goods.

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Taking a lunch break

Austrians will also take the time during the day to sit down for a proper lunch instead of just quickly eating a sandwich or takeout in front of their computers. By law, workers are entitled to a 30-minute break if their work day reaches six hours, and people in Austria will often bring lunch to work and sit down with other colleagues. 

In Austria, lunchtime is seen as a significant part of the day, not merely a hurried afterthought. It is a time to pause, relax, and recharge before continuing with the rest of the day's activities.

Many Austrians prioritise stepping away from their work or daily routines to savour their lunch - sometimes taking a homemade dish to eat in a park or even going to a cafe or restaurant.

Austrians value the social aspect of lunch breaks as well. It is common for colleagues, friends, or family members to gather together to share a meal and engage in conversations.

READ ALSO: Wurst, schnitzel, kebab: A guide to Austria’s most popular street foods

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Coffee and cake

One of the most common Austrian food habits, whether at home or in a café, is the tradition of the "Kaffeeklatsch." Although it may be considered slightly outdated by the younger generation, this practice was embraced by previous generations and continues to hold significance. 

The "Kaffeeklatsch" involves meeting up for coffee, conversation, and perhaps a little gossip. 

It's a great break during the afternoon, provides some food and energy with the Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake), and is also a good opportunity for families and friends to meet up during the weekend without committing to preparing and serving a full meal.

It's important to note that "Kaffee und Kuchen" doesn't require fancy confectionery cakes or tortes. Austrians also have a fondness for "Gebäck" (pastries), or even some bread and Aufstrich, different spreads.

READ ALSO: Seven aspects of Austrian culture foreigners should embrace

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Drinking plenty of tea and water

Austrians take great pride in the quality of their tap water, which comes straight from the Alps and is considered one of the best (Austrians will say it is the best) in the world. In addition, potable water fountains are spread in cities, and people often walk around with their (reusable) water bottles.

In addition, the mountain culture also influences how they drink tea - often made from fresh herbs. Tea and other natural remedies are seen as the first line of response against many diseases, including a cold or the flu.

They still drink plenty of alcohol, soda and, especially, energy drinks (being the country of Red Bull, they are widespread). Still, it's not uncommon for people to alternate between their glass of wine and a big glass of water while dining, for example.

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