The visitor to Vienna should not overlook the Latin origin of the name Vienna, which is Vin do Bona or good wine. Only about 10 percent of the region’s wine is bottled the rest is drunk locally, much of it in the suburb of Grinzing where it is downed to the accompaniment of the violin, accordion, and spitted chicken. The Vienna coffee house is more than a place for dispensing coffee. A travel writer describes it: The Viennese coffee house is a singular institution, a club, a rendezvous, an office, a cultural society, the right place to be alone when you require company of others to do so; even a philosophy.
Unlike the California coffee shop where sociability gets short shrift and the emphasis is on quick seat turnover, the Vienna coffee house courts its patrons. One coffee buys you a seat for as long as you like plus access to an array of newspapers and periodicals. The institution goes back to 1683 when Vienna was besieged by the Turks. One Franz Georg Kolschitzky became something of a hero when he slipped behind the Turkish lines and reported back that the Turks were weaker than believed.
When the Turks left they also left the brown beans that have helped the Viennese through the day and bad times as well. Georg was awarded the beans and the right to brew and serve them. Thus the Viennese Coffee house. If you want it black, ask for schwarzer or mocca. Kopuziner is more interesting: coffee with a dollop of cream, strewn with cocoa or chocolate flakes. Coffee goes well with Viennese pastry.
Demel’s, one of the pastry houses, produces fifty-five different cakes and 250 kinds of cookies. Apple strudel topped mit schlag, heavy cream, can be had all over Austria. (Get it early in the day. A few hours on the shelf and it becomes soggy.) In Austria gluttony is not a sin and the ladies are fashionably robust.
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