Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sumptuous Steiermark

We moved to the Steiermark region of Austria at the height of Marille season. Marille is the Austrian word for what Germans call Aprikose, or what the Swiss call Barille. When we first started seeing the signs for them being sold at roadside stands, we wondered if that might be the case. Growing up in Latin America, one found that fruit names are often what vary from country to country in a single language. Take fressa, fresón, or frutilla for example. Or even more appropriately, a durazno or melocotón.

Food is a big deal in the Steiermark. It is the capitol of Austrian cuisine. Food is already considered better in Austria than Germany, especially when it comes to pastries and desserts, but Graz and the surrounding area are particularly renowned for their cooking. Other important produce in the region, beyond the Marille, are apples and pumpkins. There is no end to the variety of pastries one can find using apples, and pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil is on everything. Even the Schnitzel, common throughout Germanic Europe, is given its own twist here, with pumpkin seeds mixed into the batter.

It should be a great year for our taste buds. And we are starting it out with these wonderful, fresh apricots. Most people do not think of apricots among their favorite fruits. That may be because you can’t find good fresh ones anymore. There is no better way to eat any fruit than straight off the branch, unless perhaps in the case of apricots. It has long been my opinion that God created apricots knowing that one day, man would come up with the idea of marmalade—for there is no fruit better suited to being canned and then spread on fresh toasted bread with real butter.

I think I better go get a snack!

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