This last July, I had the privilege of spending a month in the beautiful country of Austria. For those of you who didn’t pay attention in geography like myself, I am not talking about the giant continent Australia. I am talking about a small, land-locked country in Europe. Austria is just south of Germany and north of Italy.
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I spent the majority of the month in the capital of Austria, Vienna, which is located in the northeastern part of the country and is home to close to 2 million people. For a few days, my host family and I were in the western Austria, which is more mountainous than the eastern region of the country. After spending a month in the country, I learned a lot about the different types of crops grown there and the popular foods and beverages.
Austria’s major agricultural products are grains (wheat, corn, soybeans), potatoes, wine, fruit, dairy products, cattle, pigs, poultry, and lumbar. I had previously always thought of Italy as the major wine country in Europe, but Austrian wine is also very well known. There were many vineyards near Vienna, and my host family and I went to eat in a restaurant operated on a vineyard. These restaurants are very common, and are held to their reputation of serving the most recent grape harvest’s wine.
Another common crop in eastern Austria, are sunflowers. Sunflower oil has become a popular ingredient in many Austrian foods. When driving through eastern Austria, one will encounter many sunflower fields.
Austrian food was incredibly good, and I definitely enjoyed sampling their traditional foods. The traditional Austrian dish is Wiener Schnitzel with potato salad. Wiener Schnitzel is a large piece breaded and fried veal. Another famous dish of Austria that I had the opportunity to try several times was the Apfelstrudel, which is a pastry like cake that contains chunks of apple and is topped with powdered sugar. In Austria, when you order an iced coffee, you may be surprised with what you receive. An Eiskaffe is coffee with a few scoops of vanilla ice cream and no actual ice. In German, which is the language spoken in Austria, eis translates to ice cream.
Over the course of the month, I was able to see a lot of Austria’s different agriculture commodities. I was also able to try a variety of the different traditional foods and drinks, with an occasional McDonald’s run here and there. It is eye opening to be able to see another culture’s way of farming, ranching, cooking, and eating.