A Culinary Journey through Styria, Austria

Whenever you visit a country for the first time, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of new food options on offer. It was apparent to me that I had to get over my English distaste for meats that are not processed to the nth degree (a process which began on my trips to Germany in the previous year). Every country has its own food traditions, and Austria is no different. An Austrian diet is very typical of the national diets of continental Europeans.  Meat is a prominent feature, but with a few subtle nuances to give it an identity all of its own.

Steirersee in Austria Photo: *MarS

Steirersee in Austria

The Cuisine of Syria in Austria

Styrian cuisine takes its influence from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, which adds to the dishes an essence of Italy, Germany, Hungary and The Balkans. The Austrians cook primarily with pork, beef and chicken, while bacon – known as ‘Speck’ – is seen more as a salty spice. A traditional meal in this region is rich, homely and full of flavour.

Murau in Austria

Murau in Austria

Styria, which covers the central and south-east regions of Austria, has a palette all of its own. Visitors who get to know the food culture of the area will likely experience the chopped bacon spread Verhackertes. This is delicious spread on Emperor Rolls (or Kaisersemmel in the local parlance) or on freshly –baked rye bread. Heidensterz is a sort of mash – very similar to grits but slightly drier, made from buckwheat. The locals often serve this with meat, such as Klachelfleisch (pork knuckle) as part of a Styrian meal along with the very dry rosé wine Schilcher.

Traditional Austrian food in Graz

Perhaps the biggest city in Styria is Graz, and it has plenty of great restaurants the specialise in traditional Austrian food. Among them is Der Steirer, an Austrian tapas restaurant. The tapas style of eating makes it a great way of trying out small portions of unknown dishes to find out what you can and can’t stomach!

For those who are not so keen on the Österreichische Küche – there are a huge range of international eateries across the city of Graz. In addition to specialised food, you’ll find more straightforward American-style diners and the supermarket is always an option if anyone in your party is particularly hard to please when it comes to food.

Franz Josef Markets in Graz Photo by Garton

Franz Josef Markets in Graz

Foraging in food stores in Styria

Family camping holidays lend themselves to self-catering and foraging of the native food stores and markets. This is a great option for families with young children, as kids tend to be a little fussier when it comes to meal time. I found that discovery of the local cuisine was enabled to a greater extent by catering for yourself. Discovery of strange little delicacies and imagination in preparing them for mealtimes is part of the fun for me. I would recommend the region of Styria to anyone with a love for the language, of meat based delights and gorgeous cakes. If you can, check out some of the region’s superb traditional dishes.

Photo credits: Franz Josef Markets by Garton, Steirersee II by *MarS.

More things to enjoy in Austria

Bratwurst and Sacher Torte – or what we ate in Salzburg
Cars, Planes and Smart Food at Hangar 7 in Salzburg
May Day at The White Horse Inn on Lake Wolfgang, Austria – video

My thanks for this article to Thomson AlFresco

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