Okay, everyone… I am sure this is a topic that few blog about and I do understand the very personal nature of the subject. I will endeavor to keep this blog story at an appropriate level of discretion.
I am certain that many of you recall TV commercials in our youth about Ex-Lax, the likely parental discussion we had as children about what it meant to be “regular,” and the specific purpose of a laxative. I recall my dad putting it into terms that I would readily understand… “A laxative helps make you poop!”
Indeed throughout our lives, we of a certain age have learned that our bodies respond to different foods in curious ways. Gone are the days in which we discuss these effects only attributed to prunes! Some could say there is a movement beyond that created by prunes. The laxative responses we get to various fruits and other foods leads me to conclude that doctors and others giving medicinal advice have their favorite remedies to keep us “regular.”
In February I had hernia surgery in Spain. My care was excellent and very efficient. That is certainly a topic for another blog as my surgical experience was quite different from what is done in the U.S. Regardless, the prescription from the Mijas town doctor following surgery was to eat two kiwis a day even though I told him that orange juice would work just as well! He is a determined, friendly man so I enjoyed two kiwis a day as well as a glass of orange juice!
I have discovered a new fruit that also does the trick!! It was a bit difficult to narrow it down as there is currently an abundance of fresh strawberries and cherries at the end of their season and the beginning of apricot time in Austria. However, through process of elimination (I proudly chuckle at my choice of words) I have found the magical properties to exist with apricots! Yes, they keep me “regular” and running (I chuckle once again) to the nearest toilet. Last week as I enjoyed fresh apricots, apricot dumplings, apricot liquor, apricot jam, and so on, I made sure to always be aware of the location of the nearest toilet…just in case!
Fresh apricots (“marille”) are wonderful and abundant now in Austria.They are sold at weekly town markets in Melk, Spitz and Krems, in grocery stores, and in roadside stands throughout the Wachau Valley. What a special time to be here and experience the “Apricot Mile” near Rosaatz! I hope you enjoy this story…and I send along my wishes for your regularity!
Lower Austria is a state in Austria where the Danube River flows through the country. The state is in the northeastern part of Austria and is named “lower” to indicate elevation which is lower than in the mountainous regions of the country. I am presently residing in Krems which is at the end of the Wachau Valley in Lower Austria and have previously documented the beauty of the region in other blog posts.
In this entry I want to tell you more about the food and wine. Food and wine are very serious topics for which there is great pride in heritage, taste and visual effects. Principle meat products in the region come from pigs. Beef is extremely expensive. In addition, chicken is available but overall pork wins out as the primary dietary meat component. Roasted and smoked pork products are in huge demand and are sold in grocery stores, markets and are everywhere during festivals. Pork is on every menu and it appears to me to be in just about every lunch and dinner. I like eating the roast pork and schnitzel.
Wine is sacred in the Wachau Valley! Vines are grown all along the Danube River in the terraced slopes on the hillside in the Wachau. The stone terraced slopes (pictured) are traditional everywhere in the Wachau. Gruener Veltliner (picture copyright Wikipedia) is the main grape grown here and makes up about 35% of Austria’s wine production. That is more than any other grape in the country. It dates back to Roman times and makes a dry white wine that white wine lovers enjoy… I personally prefer a red. I have been on two winery tours since arriving in Austria and they were both very worthwhile. In the tours you obtain a sense of the wine production methods, quality control and how intensely important wine production is to the people who live in Lower Austria.
Apricots (marilee) are another main crop in the Wachau Valley. They were introduced to the region before the Romans arrived, more than 2000 years ago. While wine grapes are mainly grown on the slopes of the left bank of the Danube, the largest apricot growing region comes from the right bank near Rossatz. The area orchards are often referred to as the “apricot mile.” So far, I have enjoyed the jam and liqueurs that are made from them. Soon, though, there will be an abundance of fresh apricots on sale everywhere here. I will be stuffing myself with them!
Just as wine is sacred to the residents of Lower Austria, apple strudel is sacred to me!!! Every restaurant and bakery has an abundance of sweet apple strudel, served warm and enhanced by vanilla sauce and / or real whipped cream. I enjoy the strudel any time of the day but especially at breakfast with a nice, aromatic coffee. Frankly, I haven’t found an apple strudel that I didn’t enjoy!
That’s the update from Austria today. I hope you enjoyed my observations about local wine and foods!
The past few days as I roamed through parts of the Wachau Trail in Austria, I came to realize that I am taken not only by the beauty of the buildings and ruins but also by their simplicity and unique architectural lines. As I see these buildings with lines that are not straight, have bulges, and often lack symmetry, I understand that I am finding them to be very beautiful. I look at the craftmanship that has gone into the buildings and see works of art.
For example, today I enclose two photos taken in Durnstein and Krems. One is of a Krems house that was built in 1210 and the other is ruins from the Durnstein Castle built in the twelfth century. Notice the lack of symmetry in the house and imagine the castle ruins taking structural shape based on the rocks high in the mountain overlooking the Danube River.
Of course there are architecture representations where engineers of the day constructed buildings that have almost perfect lines, like the Steiner Tor built in the fifteenth century. This photograph isn’t mine as I just can’t seem to capture it well. But it is beautiful at the western entrance to old Krems.
There are numerous statues in Krems many of which are depictions of religious figures. One that I have not yet learned about was constructed in 1682. It appears to me to be an old knight, possibly from the crusades. Crusaders traveled this way.
Signs of Spring are everywhere now! The apricot trees are in bloom and soon the millions of grape vines will be growing again on the Wachau Valley slopes on both sides of the Danube River. Both apricots and wine are specialty products in this area and I am looking forward to enjoying them throughout the Spring and Summer.
One last photo for today is taken from the castle ruins in Durnstein. King Richard I of England was imprisoned here in 1191 on returning from the crusades. The castle overlooks the river valley below, the town of Durnstein, and the numerous vineyards. The Wachau Valley is a very beautiful place!