A (somewhat foggy) view of Salzburg’s Old Town and hilltop fortress.
About Salzburg: Salzburg is the fourth largest city in Austria with around 150,000 habitants and is in the part of Austria bordering the German region of Bavaria. Austrians don’t speak German at home, but rather learn “High German” at school for use throughout Austria and Germany. Salzburg can be roughly translated to mean “Salt Castle.” Historical records indicate that the name comes from the city’s importance in the salt trade. In the 8th century boats carrying salt had to pay taxes for using the river. Apart from its historic “Old Town” in an alpine setting, Salzburg is famous for two things: Mozart and The Sound of Music.
It was in this backdrop, of gardens, palaces and baroque houses that Mozart was born and raised.
Do children nowadays see old classics like The Sound of Music? At eight years old, I was enamored of the film and could have watched it four or five times in a row (and at almost three hours long, that’s a long time for a child). On the other hand, my ten year old niece, who belts out Disney favorites in the shower, has not, to my knowledge, ever seen the movie.
Visiting Salzburg this fall, I was enchanted to see that the places in this movie so dear to my heart were all around. A few hundred feet from my hotel were Mirabell Palace and its gardens, where Maria and the Von Trapp children frolicked. Here is the Pegasus fountain where Maria and the Children sat down to sing “Do-re-mi.” Nearby is the house filmed as the Von Trapp family residence as well as the nunnery Maria leaves behind to live with the Von Trapps.
The Pegasus Fountain at Mirabell Gardens
What many people don’t know about this family friendly film is that it’s based on a true story: that of Maria, an Austrian would-be-nun sent to tutor the children of the widower Captain Von Trapp, and her life with the family, first as a teacher and companion, and later as a wife and mother, as well as the story of the family’s life in Austria and their subsequent escape to America during World War II.
At one point in the film Maria and the children run through this tunnel…
Me on a unicorn guarding the entrance to Mirabell Gardens.
Apart from the many “Sound of Music” and Mozart related sites, Salzburg is a great place to appreciate Austrian cuisine. With its open markets where one can buy fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, cured meats, as well breads, pastries and pretzels of every shape, size and flavor, Salzburg is a great place for cheap food on the go. If street-eats aren’t your cup of tea, an unusual and entertaining option is the Mozart Dinner Theater where guests enjoy authentic Mozart-era dishes like savory lemon cream soup while a string quartet and opera singers perform excerpts from Mozart’s most famous operas.
Alternatively, one can visit one of the many cafes and restaurants that are around every corner for a cozy sit-down meal or a coffee and a Mozartkugel, a bonbon invented in Salzburg by Paul Furst. This is a small ball-shaped chocolate comprised of various layers.
The original Mozartkugel has spawned many imitations, but Furst chocolatiers still make this delicacy by hand with no preservatives. The innermost layer is pistachio marzipan, and the following two layers are nougat, and dark chocolate coating. The inner layers are formed into a sphere and placed on a small stick that is used to dip the balls in the chocolate coating. After the chocolate has hardened, the balls are removed from the stick, and the hole is filled in with chocolate, making a small bump in the sphere that is the trademark of handmade “original” Mozartkugel. Unfortunately, the Mozartkugel made by Furst are only available for sale in Salzburg, and by mail order from their website within Europe.
While making your own Mozartkugel can prove to be a difficult task, one of the best soups I tried while in Salzburg, Fritatten Suppe, or pancake soup, can be easily prepared at home. In Austria, pancakes or fritatten, are a popular dessert, served with jelly. Austrian pancakes are thinner than their American equivalent, and thicker than French crepes. Fritatten Suppe is a typical soup, making use of leftover pancakes from the day before to make the “noodles” with a clear, broth-based soup.
Homemade Fritatten Suppe
Easy to prepare with readily available and inexpensive ingredients, Fritatten Suppe is sure to be a favorite with kids, who will be instantly attracted to a “pancake” soup. My suggestion is to make the pancakes for breakfast (be sure to make enough that there are leftovers for your soup) and make the soup for lunch or dinner that day. This is a cheap and easy meal to make during the holiday season because with your leftover roast beef, chicken, ham or vegetables you can make your own stock, or if
you prefer, buy a canned broth, and “personalize” it with spices of your choice.
To make Fritatten Suppe as it was served to me in Austria, you will need:
- Homemade or canned beef broth
- roughly one to two dessert plate sized pancakes per person
- carrot, squash or zucchini, and fresh chives or green onions for garnish
- cheese grater
- cutting board
- chopping knife
- soup cauldron
- First put your beef broth on to heat up, adding spices as desired.
- While the broth is heating up, finely shred a little carrot, squash or zucchini (or a combination of all three)
- Add to the broth just long enough to barely cook (1-2 minutes) before turning off the heat
- Cover the broth.
- Slice your pancakes in long thin pieces, just a little bit thicker than spaghetti.
- Garnish with chopped fresh green onions or chives.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and add pancakes and chives.
You have a light and satisfying winter soup straight from Salzburg that you can prepare for friends and family! If your children (grandchildren, or nieces and nephews) haven’t yet seen The Sound of Music, I suggest sitting the kids down to see the movie, and afterwards serving Fritatten Suppe for dinner and explaining that this is a soup Maria and the Von Trapps probably ate!
|Me, eyes closed at Mirabell Gardens.|
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