Hello from a town called Kühtai in the Austrian territory of the Alps. Don’t ask how I ended up here – irrelevant! What you need to know is that it’s the first stop on a jaunt through this breadcrumb-crusted country which will also take me to Salzburg, Vienna, and perhaps a local emergency room.
Into winter sports and/or sexy foreign ski bums and planning on hitting Kühtai? Look at you, cool, cultured cutie. But you don’t eat meat? No worries. Don’t eat gluten? Fine. Don’t eat dairy? You can make it work if you're, like, one of those overachieving A student types. Gluten-free vegan tho? Uh, maybe you should forget about it. Austria as a whole is known for its cakes, a fact that totally makes sense when you realize flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and milk take up ALL of its national food pyramid squares.
That said, fooooodie phrases like “farm to table” and “nose-to-tail” come naturally with the cuisine, so quality of ingredients is always super high. And luckily, nice hotels dominate the lodging situation, which means the pesky language barrier POOFS, as does the need to kill your brain cells translating grocery store labels.
Unfortunately, mine, the Jagdschloss Kühtai, is known to have the best food in the area. What’s ~unfortunate~ about that, you spoiled c***?! Let’s put it this way bitch: when the animal products are only more absurdly #local than they are delicious and the Patissier makes every single portion of dessert himself, I’m NOT about be dismissing marzipan, or asking for fish instead of meat, or for that fish to be cooked in oil instead of butter. And thank God, because everything gourmet is innately doused in butter. EVERYTHING! Vegetables are cooked in butter. Eggs are cooked in butter. Even plain white rice and white potatoes are tossed in butter. (Which, truthfully, kind of breathes this fun new un-Great Depression life into them. But butter is the Devil, I totally get it.)
So how do we deal when we finally succumb to being #THICC(CCC)?
DELUSIONAL AND ONLY SLIGHTLY GLAMOROUS TACTICS TO DEAL WITH INEVITABLE EUROPEAN INDIGESTION AND HALF-HEARTED FEAR OF WEIGHT GAIN
1. AGGRO 2x/DAILY DOSAGE OF PB8 PROBIOTIC
2. Drink espressos and/or Americanos like a mad person (on an empty stomach in the a.m. and to cap every meal). Reap those laXXXative benefits!
(or, if you’re like me and coffee gives you repulsive cystic acne –)
2.5 Swap out your usual black tea for 3-5 cups of green daily. Supposedly you can burn, like, 100 extra calories, and if we say enough Hail Marys perhaps all those antioxidants will reverse the wrinkle- (and cancer!-) inducing sugar side effects???
3. Water water water water, until you think you may be drowning internally. Austria has great tap.
4. Apertifs! Chic AND chock-full of “polyphenol compounds,” whatever those are. All I know is that dry Vermouths BURN when you drink them, and “the burn means it’s working!” Medicinal as fuck!
5. (This might be my favorite because it’s CONFIRMED by an ACTUAL EUROPEAN PERSON) Red wine! My mom’s German bff says the antioxidants in it cut through fat and that it IS the reason Euro women are not heavy. My #1 trusted news source for serious news, The Daily Mail, also confirmed in a 2015 article ;)
Then there are other important things like EXERCISE – downhill or cross-country skiing and sweating in the sauna, le duh – and PORTION CONTROL. I remain utterly flabbergasted by how CIVILIZED the portions are here. Croissants are downright delicate! Soup bowls are shrunken. Even tea and coffee are served in these fun-sized little cups. If you see me consuming a Venti ever again, please dispose of me in a Venti-sized trash bag.
It should also be noted that I don’t really see Europeans snack. Well, there was this one white-blonde, leather-tanned, totally toned middle-aged lady that looked so Italian but spoke German-level harshly…she wore a neon orange ski suit and I was v obsessed with her…I’d see her in the lobby at 4pm eating a banana with hot lemon water. But that kind of proves my point. Everyone else just DRINKS the moment they feel a pit in their stomach!
LOW POINTS HAVE INCLUDED
-ordering a “field salad” and receiving bacon bit-smothered pan-fried potatoes resting gently atop a small pile of greens (see above)
-using my fork to remove and ingest pine nuts (which btw are oversized+twelve times better here) one by one from a pile of risotto in a temporary carb-freakout
-realizing that there was flour in beef stew (goulash)
-realizing that there was flour -- and butter -- coating my filet of trout
-eating red curry out of desperation and realizing it was tastier than any Thai food I've had in Manhattan for the past 3 years. #gentrification
AND IN CONCLUSION
Austrian "safe" foods include and are generally limited to: sausage; meat filets and all the cured varieties; fish/seafood (but ASK if it’s dredged in flour); smoked salmon; rice; potatoes; cheese; yogurt; fruit; nuts; salad (but good luck obtaining one); SUGAR!!!! <3