Eating Well: Salzburg, Austria - #111

BURT WOLF: Salzburg, Austria. A town that's been around for over three thousand years, and the spot where Mozart grew up. We'll take a look at the city's beauty, discover who invented the pretzel and why it has its very special shape. We'll discover the reason people though it was unlucky to spill salt at the table and we'll cook up some of Salzburg's best tasting recipes, including an awesome raspberry tart. Join me, Burt Wolf, Eating Well in Salzburg. 

Salzburg, Austria. The name means salt-town, and it is thought of as a world capital for the beauties of life. An antique jewel in a rich, alpine setting. Magnificent scenery, art, architecture, music, good food, great shopping, and one of Europe's most inviting cities, and it's been this way for thousands of years. Why? Why this incredible history? Well, the answer can be found in one simple word, salt. For almost three thousand years, the people around Salzburg have been mining salt and for most of those years, salt has been incredibly valuable. If you controlled the production of salt, you were well-seasoned with wealth, power and fame. In the years before refrigeration, salt was just about essential for the preservation of food. Salted foods lasted through the winter. Societies without salt, didn't.

The ancient princes of the Celtic tribes set up shop here and traded salt to the Greeks and the Roman legions, for gold, jewelry and works of art. In the year six hundred and ninety-six, a bishop named Rupert began construction of this monastery, the church of Saint Peter. The statue of Rupert in front of the church shows a bucket of salt next to him. It was the basis for the monastery's wealth. There's a restaurant inside the monastery that opened in 803. That makes it the oldest restaurant in Salzburg. By the eleventh century, the area came under the control of a group of prince-bishops, half prince, half bishop. They were part of the church, but they were often equally involved with their own wealth and power. They built the Hohensalzburg Fortress. It's the largest and the best-preserved structure that's still around from the middle ages. Inside is the Bull of Salzburg, a cylindrical organ built in 1502. The first and the final chords imitate the bellowing of a bull. 

The fortress is high above the town and has a great view of Salzburg and the surrounding countryside. In 1587, Wolf Dietrich was elected Archbishop. He wanted to make Salzburg the Rome of the north and he did a pretty good job of it, too. He used Italian architects to design much of the city, including the cathedral. Next to the cathedral is the official residence of the bishops. Mozart played here as a child, and across the square is the Glockenspiel Tower. [BELLS PLAY] Its thirty-five bells have serenaded the townspeople since 1704. Hey, play it again, Sigmund. [BELLS PLAY]

Salzburg's many years of wealth and power and its history of trade with other parts of the world, have given it a great sense of gastronomy, and you can see it clearly in the city's old market. The open market in Salzburg is one of the cleanest, neatest and best-organized markets in Europe. It has all of the fruits and vegetables that you would expect, lots of nuts, fresh herbs, meats, great breads, cheeses, and flowers. It's set up every morning except Sunday in University Square, in front of University Church. The townspeople come in by foot, buy what they need for the day’s cooking and walk home. It's been pretty much like this for about a thousand years. Throughout the changing season, different specialties show up in the market. Salzburg is well known for its decorative bouquets made from herbs and spices and those are called krampus, stick figures made from raisins, prunes and dried pears. They're given to children around December sixth, which is celebrated as Saint Nicholas' Day. The doll is a reminder to behave properly during the holiday season, or else the dried fruits may be your only gift. 

Another Salzburg specialty is the pretzel. Pretzels have been around since Roman times. and they've been part of the foods of Salzburg for over a thousand years. They were originally straight, but some time in the early six-hundreds, they took on this new form. A monk shaped the pretzel dough into a form that reminded him of praying arms. Now this may be sacrilege to say in Salzburg, but if you love pretzels and you are salt-sensitive, you can get off most of the salt by just rubbing the outside of a pretzel. In general, pretzels are a wonderful low-fat snack. 

During the past fifteen years, we've seen a steady stream of scientific reports that accuse a particular food or drink or food additive of causing cancer. The stories are very dramatic and always cause a great deal of comment. Additionally, national opinion surveys tell us that tens of millions of Americans are very concerned about the relationship between what they eat and their over-all good health. So it's really nice to have some good news reconfirmed. There are a group of vegetables and for reasons we really don't understand completely at this point, they appear to have the ability to help block the development of cancer. They are called cruciferous vegetables. 

Cruciferous means that if you turn the vegetable over, and look at the base, you will see the ribs forming a cross. Hence the name cruciferous. All the members of the cabbage clan, broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower, seem to contain something that helps the body's natural defense system. As a matter of fact, the ancient Romans thought that cabbages were so important as a defense against disease, that at one point they actually started drafting a law that insisted that their soldiers eat it every week. Two thousand years later and scientists are telling us that the ancient Romans might have been right. And when It comes to putting that cabbage into a recipe, try Salzburg's sauteed red cabbage. 

A red cabbage is shredded, a few caraway seeds are sprinkled on, the juice of a lemon and little red wine vinegar. The vinegar is important, not only because of the flavor that it adds but because it helps the cabbage hold its red color. Everything is mixed together. Then into the refrigerator to marinate for about ten hours. Perfect thing to do overnight. Next, a little vegetable oil goes into a saute pan, a few tablespoons of sugar are added and heated until they turn a light brown. A few tablespoons of chopped onion, the cabbage that's been marinating, a little apple juice, a little lemon juice, a grated apple, stir, cover, simmer for an hour. 

Getreidegasse number nine. The birthplace of Salzburg's main man, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Born on the twenty-seventh of January, 1756, he grew up in Salzburg and produced some of his finest music here. By the time he was five years old, he had learned how to play the harpsichord from his father. He could also play the violin, but he had learned that from just watching. At the age of seven, he went on tour with his father and his sister; she was eleven at the time. When the Mozarts gave their performance in Germany, a woman in the audience was so impressed that should decided if she ever had a son, she would make him a musical prodigy, just like little Wolfgang. And she did. Her son's name: Ludwig Van Beethoven. So, not only did Mozart produce an enormous amount of magnificent music on his own, he inspired a second body of work in Beethoven. 

But Mozart's inspirational qualities were not just limited to music. Evidence the Mirabelle Mozart Kugel, the national candy of Austria. It was originally produced in the 1800s to mark the hundredth anniversary of Mozart's death. Now watch this. The company was founded in Salzburg. Salzburg is also the birthplace of Mozart. But in addition to that, it is an ancient cross-point in gastronomic history. It stands as a gateway with the foods of Europe to the west, and the foods of the Middle East and the Orient to the east. And its tradition is to take the best of both areas, and mix them together into something new. 

The Mozart Kugel is a prefect example of what I mean. It's made from three basic elements. The first is marzipan. That's a mixture of egg whites, sugar, and almonds, that's made into a paste. It is an ancient Middle Eastern confection. The second is nougat. Nougat is clearly from the Orient. The third is chocolate. And that's really western. It originated in Central America, was brought to Spain by the conquistadors, and wound up in Salzburg with a group of traveling monks. Obviously, this is a marriage that will melt in your mouth.

With 1991 being the two hundredth anniversary of Mozart's death, an enormous amount of additional information on Mozart's life is coming to light... including the things he liked to eat. It appears that Mozart loved fish. Could it be that a low-fat diet put the magic in Mozart's flute? And if you're looking for a magical menu to go along with Mozart's music, just waltz over to the kitchen of chef Herbert Berkelhoffer.

For the past twenty-five years, Herbert Berkelhoffer has been cooking in the kitchens of Salzburg's hotel Goldener Hirsch, and for the past two years, he has been researching and recreating recipes from the period of Mozart's life in Austria during the late 1700s. One of Mozart's favorite recipes appears to have been a fish soup and here's the way it was prepared. 

Two cups of fish stock go into a pot, a little cream, or you can substitute low-fat buttermilk, which works fine. Not traditional, but then, neither was Mozart. A little saffron, the juice of half a lemon; that simmers for about five minutes. Meanwhile, a little vegetable oil is heated. Pieces of boneless, skinless catfish are lightly floured and sauteed. Dumplings are also made from pureed catfish. The sauteed fish goes into a serving dish. And the dumplings are added. The soup, a garnish of cooked strips of vegetables and some chopped chives. Well, it may not be magic for Mozart's flute, but it could put little music into the night. 

Mozart is probably Austria's most famous musician, but tafelspitz is its most famous dish, and it got that way because of Austria's most famous emperor, Franz Joseph the First. Now whatever Franz did, everyone else wanted to do too. So when the world got out that His Imperial Majesty preferred a boiled beef dish called tafelspitz, for lunch, to everything else, it was tafelspitz mania, and it still it. Here's the classic recipe.

You start with a stock pot filled with cold water. Whenever you're choosing a stock pot, make sure that it's long and narrow. The flavor of the stock comes from the bubbling up of the water through the food. If you use a flat pan it's not going to work. Long and narrow. Add three pounds of beef bones. Let the water come to a simmer and skim off any solids that come to the surface. Then add in three pounds of brisket of beef or beef chuck. Next, some onions and turnips that have been browned, a few carrots, a few leeks. Let everything simmer together for about an hour. Then adding few whole white peppercorns, a few whole black peppercorns, a few bay leaves. Then, two or three more hours of simmering and it's ready to serve. The beef comes out, and it's sliced against the grain. Important point. Slicing it against the grain gives the meat the proper texture. The beef is traditionally served with a horseradish sauce, a puree of spinach and pan fried potatoes. 

But that's not all there is to this dish. Once the tafelspitz is removed from the stock pot, we'll have a perfect beef broth. And when the cooking of the soup is completed it's finished off with one of the land-lieben soup garnishes. Now, this is a classic piece of Austrian cookery, right out of the old empire. You get a choice of pearl drops, which are made from yeast dough, or omelet strings, which are like strips of pancake, or egg puffs, which are made from a puff paste of flour, eggs and vegetable oil. They're crunchy, and they add a nice texture to the soup. A traditional piece of Austrian cookery. 

If I ate everything I wanted to eat, in the quantities I wanted to eat it, someone would have to invent a new size for television sets, because I definitely would not fit into any of the present models. I love good-tasting food, it's always been around me, and so, all my life I've had to work at controlling my weight, and do it quite seriously. One of the things that's been a great help to me, is soup. When you start to eat, your stomach sends a signal to your brain that food is arriving, and you can stop feeling hungry. Unfortunately, it takes about twenty minutes for the signal to get from your stomach to your brain. And it is in those twenty minutes that many people do their overeating. A series of experiments at the University of Pennsylvania showed that people who started their meals with a soup that was low-calorie and low-fat, like a broth, tended to have fifty calories less at that meal. Now that may not sound important. But if you take fifty calories at each meal, two meals a day, and the end of a year, that is ten pounds of body fat and that is significant. The study also showed that people who started their meal with a soup tended to have fewer fats and calories in any between meal snacks. Low-fat, low-calorie soups to start a meal. It's a great idea. 

Getreidegasse is the most famous of Salzburg's shopping streets. The name means “the street that's wide enough for horses to gallop.” But the only thing that gallops down Getreidegasse these days are the shoppers. Above each store is a wrought-iron sign that tells you what's for sale. This street has been around for quite a while. Town records show that it was already thought of as a busy place for shopping during the twelfth century. One of the most striking aspects of Salzburg is the age of the buildings and the businesses that you come in contact with. People have inhabited this area, on a regular basis, for at least three thousand years, and much of their work is still in working order. 

This bakery opened up for business in 1429. They have a lovely little section inside where they'll give you a discount on everything left over from the 1500s. Almost all of their breads are farm-style whole grain breads. In the old days, farmers couldn't afford bread that was refined and white. Those breads were for the rich. The farmers had to make do with whole grain and lucky for them too, because six hundred years later, we find out that those refined products are not so fine. Many of the most valuable nutrients were removed during the processing. My recommendation when you pick out a bread is go for the whole grain. More vitamins and minerals, in their natural state. Better for you. Also, lots of fiber. You know, the American diet is a little low on fiber and the American Dietetic Association is recommending that we get more fiber into our diets. Whole grain breads can help. 

And something else the American Dietetic Association is recommending, is a reduction in our nation’s sodium or salt intake. Salt has played such an important pole in human history that the very word has become symbolic of its value. The word “salary” comes from the word salt. It's a reference to the fact that in ancient times Roman soldiers received part of their payment in salt. 

To call someone “the salt of the earth” was to describe them as a trustworthy and responsible person. Salt was so valuable at one time, that if you spilled any at the table, you were thought to be in the presence of evil spirits. But you didn't have to worry, you just took a little and you threw it over your shoulder and they would run away. Evil spirits were thought to congregate behind you, and slightly to the left. See? It worked! 

Salt was also wonderful for finding out who was a witch. You put a little under a seat cushion and then invited somebody to sit down and if they refused to, hey, that was it. You were stuck with a witch. Salt had a negative quality too. Salt is a rock. And most people thought that eating a rock was kind of strange, so we use the salt phrase in two different ways. If you had a mine and it was totally worthless but you wanted to sell it to somebody, you'd take a little gold, and stick it around here and there, and try and convince the buyer that the mine was filled with gold. And that was called "salting" the mine. 

Mining salt has been the primary source of wealth for Salzburg. The fortress, the cathedral, the magnificent princely residences, the architecture, most of what you see here in Salzburg, owes its economic origin to the salt mines. But times have changed. During the last hundred years, modern technology has made salt increasingly available and very inexpensive. And for many Americans, in a strange way, salt's negative and dangerous overtones have taken over. Some people are salt-sensitive. Too much salt in their diet can lead to a rise in blood pressure and eventually to heart disease. Historically, people have fought and died for salt, now it looks like some people will die from it. 

When there's too much salt in the blood, your blood gets thirsty and it draws in more liquid to balance things out. But with more liquid in the system, your heart has to pump harder to move that liquid around, and for many people, the result is high blood pressure. The Federal Food and Drug Administration estimates that thirty-five million people have a problem with high blood pressure and there are no external symptoms. The only way to find out if you have a problem, is to check you blood pressure. So it's important to do that a couple of time a year, to find out how serious you should be about your salt mind. 

In the heart of the antique city of Salzburg, on one of its oldest and most picturesque streets, sits the world famous hotel Goldener Hirsch, “the golden stag,” with a history that dates back to 1407. Amazing, almost a hundred years before Columbus set sail for the new world, and people were trying to get a reservation here. I understand that if Chris could have booked a room, with a weekend rate, he would have come here, rather than go to America. Ah, such are the small twists and turns in the course of history. 

The present character of the hotel is a result of the work of Countess Harriet Walderdoff. She wanted the building to feel like a private manor house, and so she filled it with authentic period furniture, local works of art, traditional Austrian handcraft and locks that dated from the renaissance. Today the hotel is managed by the Countess's son, Count Johannes Walderdoff, who is determined to maintain the atmosphere of a home away from home. His office has a small tunnel window that looks down on the entrance area. It gives him the opportunity to constantly note the arrival of his guests and to welcome them. 

COUNT WALDERDOFF: Good morning, Burt. Good morning. 

BURT WOLF: And for the Count, nothing counts more than the hotel's cooking. The leading culinary guidebooks to Europe regularly recommend the Goldener Hirsch restaurant as having some of the best and most authentic of Austrian food. And classic examples are found in the work of their pastry chef. A perfect example is a dessert called palatschinken, made from sweet pancakes. Traditionally, eggs go into milk, flour is added and mixed into a light batter which is panfried in butter, into pancakes. But the times they are a-changing. These days many Austrians are lightening up. Two of the four eggs have been replaced with egg whites, two whites for each whole egg replaced. And the whole milk has become skim milk. Instead of being cooked in butter, it's a pan with just a little vegetable oil. Tradition also calls for palatschinken to be filled with apricot preserves. They still are, but health-conscious Austrians are using preserves with high fruit content and much less sugar than standard preserves. 

They use fruits that are picked in the Austrian Alps, which has a very short growing season. The result is that the fruit has a very concentrated flavor, more taste for fewer calories. The apricot preserves go onto the pancake. The pancake is rolled up and goes onto the serving plate. A little powdered sugar on top and it's time to polish off the palatschinken. 

Here in Austria there is an ancient tradition for the making of fruit preserves. And one of the great recipes was developed by a man named Rudolph D'Arbeau, in 1879. He was actually an early advocate of natural foods and eventually developed a fruit spread that was sweetened with pure acacia honey rather than white sugar. As you might expect, fruit preserves are used as a spread on bread but they're also used as a spoon-sweetener in tea. It adds a pleasant fruit flavor, too. 

Preserves have also become a regular ingredient in Austrian deserts. Between layers of a chocolate cake, there's a line of apricot jam. As a topping in ice cream, on a cookie, and palatschinken. Palatschinken is definitely a passion amongst Austrian deserts, but the true heart of this country's cooking is found in their pastries, especially the tortes. The linzer tort is a classic example. 

The chef starts by producing a small mountain made up of ground almonds, crumbled cookies, flour, sugar, butter, the zest of a lemon, baking powder and cinnamon. The lake at the top of the mountain contains three eggs. All those ingredients are blended together into a very smooth dough. When it develops a silk-like surface, it goes onto a plate and into the refrigerator for an hour. That tightens up the texture and makes it easier to roll out. When it's ready, the dough is divided into two equal pieces, rolled out to the thickness of about a quarter of an inch, cut into a disk and placed onto a baking sheet. The second piece of dough is rolled out, and cut into strips. A little eggwash is painted around the edge of the disk. It acts like a glue when additional dough is built up along that edge, to form a wall. Raspberry jam is used to fill in the center. Strips of dough are placed on top of the jam to form a lattice-work. Another coat of egg wash, a sprinkling of sliced almonds, then into a three hundred and seventy-five degree oven for twenty-five minutes, or until the dough is fully cooked. 

Wine had been made in Austria for thousands of years. The first important vineyards were actually planted by the Roman legions about two thousand years ago. And there has been a constant increase in winemaking knowledge and skill. Wine tastings have been going on for thousands of years. Traditionally, one wine is tasted against another to see which is best. But how about a glass tasting? The wine stays the same, the glass changes. Well, not important, you say? Not so. Many of the world's leading wine experts are finding out that the size and shape of the glass has an enormous impact on the taste of what's inside. 

And the man who first discovered this was Austrian professor Claus Joseph Riedl. He started his work some thirty years ago, and was eventually able to design a set of glasses to meet the needs of most of the things we drink. The theory behind the work is quite simple. Your tongue has several taste zones. Sweetness is felt at the front, bitterness in the back, salt and sour along the sides. Say you were drinking a sweet, fruity, Austrian riesling; you would want to have the sweetness come through first. So curve the lip of the glass to direct the wine to the tip of your tongue, the part that's sensitive to sweetness. Professor Riedl has designed glasses for fifteen different types of wines and eight different types of brandies. But I have given him an even more complex task, and when he completes it, it will bring joy to the hearts of tens of millions of Americans. I have asked him to design the perfect glass for iced tea. [GLASS CLINKS]

So, what's the signal from Salzburg, when it comes to food and good health? Well, the first message is very similar to the history of Salzburg itself. Salzburg is old. People have been around here for about three thousand years. For most of those years, salt has been very important. But these days, salt is less significant and has a less positive role. And that message translates very simply as, as you get older, your body can tolerate less salt, so cut down on your salt intake. [BELL CLANGS]

Since some thirty five million Americans may be sensitive to salt and subject to high blood pressure as a result, have your blood pressure checked regularly; it's the only safe way to find out if you've got a problem. [BELL CLANGS] In general, we need more fiber in our diet and an easy way to add fiber to our meals is to use whole grain breads. [BELL CLANGS] Cabbage is packed with valuable nutrients and one of the best foods in our diet in terms of health. Eat more cabbage. [BELL CLANGS] Low-fat beef: it's a perfectly acceptable source of protein, and like almost any other food, it can be included as regular but moderate part of your diet. [BELL CLANGS] That's Eating Well in Salzburg. Please join us next time as we travel around the world, [MUSIC] looking for something that tastes good and makes it easier to eat well. I'm Burt Wolf.