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Posts from the ‘Legends’ Category

Napoleon, Jesus and the Free Masons: The Last Supper in Vienna

…it should not be hard for you to stop sometimes and look into the stains of walls, or ashes of a fire, or clouds, or mud or like places, in which, if you consider them well, you may find really marvellous ideas.
Leonardo daVinci Quoted in Irma  A Richter (ed) Selections from the Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci (1977)

I’ve been dying to share a little secret with you. It’s time. And you deserve it. (Shh! Even if you don’t, pretend you do, I’m bursting to let you in on this). In fact, let me surprise you and let’s make it a day. First we’ll go for lunch at Café Central and as we are walking over to Freud’s old hang out for a großer Brauner and an Apfelstrudel (Café Landtmann), I’ll share with you one of Vienna’s very best wonderfully amazing secrets. As we walk up the Leopold Figl Gasse from Café Central, you’ll happen to remark on how hot the city can get in summer and on cue, I’ll pull you into the cool Italian National Church of Mary of the Snows. Then you’ll close your eyes while I guide you to your surprise. No peeking until I put the 50 cent piece into the box on the marble column by the pews to activate the spotlights. Okay. Now! A life-sized 1816 replica of Leonardo Da Vinci’s 1495 painting, Last Supper!

Minoriten Church, aka Italian National Church of Mary of the Snows , Vienna Austria

Minoriten Church, aka Italian National Church of Mary of the Snows , Vienna, Austria

I know what you’re thinking. ‘We’re in Europe. Let’s hop the train to Milan and see the real thing. Why the copy?’

Why?

Top five reasons:
1) No entrance fee or need to reserve a spot on a tour weeks in advance. And let’s face it, you probably don’t have endless vacation days and enjoy the Austrian legally required 5 weeks a year vacation (yes, we do, we really all do get (at least) 5 weeks (!) here)

In Giacomo Rafaelli's mosaic copy of Da Vinci's Last Supper, completed for Napoleon, the feet of the disciples are visible

In Giacomo Raffaelli’s mosaic copy of Da Vinci’s Last Supper, completed for Napoleon, the feet of the disciples are visible and one can ask — is that Mary Magdalene at his side?

2) This copy is far better preserved than the original, which is a mural that was painted on dry wall rather than wet plaster and since 1517 (only 30 years after it was made) already started to show signs of wear and tear. The Milan painting is cracking and has had the bottom cut off with its fragile paint fading from light exposure and elements. Groups of 25 have to pass through a climate controlled room before entering and only get to look for 15 minutes max.
3) But here in Minoriten Church, we’re alone and you have plenty of time to look closely and admire a piece of artwork made up of 10,000 (!) hand-painted mosaic tiles (and you thought your flower pot project was demanding). Imagine such a puzzle!
4) You are looking at a piece of art that is testament to the thrilling tales of history, love, war, intrigue and unsolved mysteries
5) And the best reason? We’ll probably be completely alone in the cool quiet expanse of the French Gothic cathedral while we take in the wonderment. And when is the last time you can claim you actually stood in awe and wonder of something, dumbfounded and thrilled, inspired by art?

The Last Supper / Communion / The Covenant / The Betrayal / The Crucifixion

Side Entrance at end of hall into Minoriten Church

Side Entrance at end of hall into Minoriten Church

According to the Bible passage, Matthew 26:17-30, Jesus and his disciples ate Passover together. During the dinner, he sat at a table with all 12 disciples. And while they ate, he told them that one of them would betray him and it would be the one who dipped his hand into the bowl

Rafaelli's mosaic copy of Da Vinci's Last Supper in Vienna's Minoriten Church

Raffaelli’s mosaic copy of Da Vinci’s Last Supper in Vienna’s Minoriten Church

with him. (Click on the picture above left to the left to enlarge it. You see Judas and Jesus reaching for the same bowl and Judas clenching a bag of money – indicating that he will betray Jesus. You see the disciples reacting to the betrayal of Jesus – which was a ground-breaking portrayal at the time). Jesus took the bread, gave thanks for it, broke it and said to his disciples, “Take and eat, this is my body.” And then he took a cup, gave thanks and gave it to his disciples and said, “Drink, all of you. This is my blood and the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” He said he would not drink it again until he shared the drink with the disciples in his Father’s kingdom.

From there Jesus went to the Mount of Olives and shortly thereafter he was crucified.

The Original Portrait and Leonardo Da Vinci

I highly recommend the Khan Academy material and this short video will tell you everything you need to know (to be sufficiently impressive to those who know nothing) about Da Vinci’s Last Supper: Khan Academy, The Last Supper

Interesting blog post by Lisa Shea about the original painting

Interior of the Italian National Church of Mary of Snows, aka Minoriten Church, Vienna, Austria

Interior of the Italian National Church of Mary of Snows, aka Minoriten Church, Vienna, Austria

Dan Brown and the Intrigue Behind the Portrait

See the passage “The Secret of the Holy Grail” in this Dan Brown Da Vinci Code Wikipedia entry.

Napoleon and This Last Supper

In 1805 Napoleon ordered the original to be transferred to Paris. Fortunately, it couldn’t be removed so he ordered a copy. Giacomo Raffaelli began working on the masterpiece in 1806 and completed it eight years later. By then, however, Napoleon was in exile in Elba. So his son-in-law, Kaiser Franz I, wanted to put it in Schloss Belvedere but the mosaic didn’t fit there so it ended up here.

And now that you’ve had your surprise, it’s time for some Apfelstrudel at Landtmann (or maybe a wine in the Augustiner Keller?) — or both? — the day is young and there are so many things left to explore!

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Raefaelli's mosaic copy of Da Vinci's Last Supper in Vienna's Minoriten Church

Raffaelli’s mosaic copy of Da Vinci’s Last Supper in Vienna’s Minoriten Church

More Interesting Links:

Da Vinci’s Last Supper: New Conspiracy Theory”, The Telegraph newspaper, 30 June 2007

Clip from Movie on Wiki Clip: http://danbrown.wikia.com/wiki/File:The_Da_Vinci_Code_(2006)_-_Clip_The_Last_Supper

Downloadable Image of Giacomo Raffaelli’s Last Supper from Wiki Commons

Wikipedia on Last Supper

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When the Bells Fall Silent and Fly to Rome

Silence speaks when words cannot.

One of the most magical moments of the day in Vienna is 7 pm when the bells throughout the city start to ring. Their ringing times are slightly off-set so that as the baritone clangs of one church begin to fade, the ringing tones of another commence. No matter how many years I live here, I never tire of that sound and it is something I truly miss when I’m away.

Door Bell Sign Vienna

This door bell didn’t fly to Rome, she’s at the entrance of Rotenturmstrasse 19.

And for the past few days, I have missed them once again. Because wouldn’t you know it — in Austria (Germany, France and perhaps more parts of Europe), the bells pack up their things on Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday) after the service commemorating the Last Supper, and all fly to Rome not to be seen or heard from again until Easter.

Why?

Good question. No one knows for sure and therefore theories abound. Some of these include:

1)      They’re off to get a blessing from the Pope (as if he doesn’t have enough going on this time of year)

2)      Think there’s better food in Rome and they’re going there to enjoy it (quite possible given the great Italian pizza, pasta and ice-cream)

3)      Want to get away for a while to recuperate (we all can relate and Rome does have some great shops)

4)      To eat with the Pope (again, he seems pretty busy)

5)      To return with an Easter message from the Vatican (plausible)

6)      To go confess (oh the sinful lives of bells! Can you imagine: “Forgive me Father for I have sinned.” “What is it this year, Pummerin?”)

7)      To fetch the Easter eggs to drop down into the yards of Austrian country kids and the apartments of their city slicker counterparts. (kinda of like Italian pigeons who target American tourists with their own little fun droppings)

The Gloeckl Beer of Graz probably doesn't fly to Rome either.

The Glöckl Beer of Graz probably doesn’t fly to Rome either.

Perhaps in a show of a solidarity, or unwilling to work when the others aren’t (maybe a union thing) or maybe just a bit depressed but for whatever reason, when the bells fly away, the organs all take a hiatus too. But they don’t spread their organ wings and lift off, they just give everyone the silent treatment while the bells are gone.

And though I might often times enjoy the sound of silence, I also recognize that historically, before iPhones and Smart Phones and reminders and ring tones, bells served an important civic function. Back in yesteryear, it took a bit for pocket-sized watches to be inventedand not everyone could afford one. And try lugging a sundial with you to the pub. For this reason the church bells would inform folks where the fires were, when public entertainment events like executions were taking place and when they better get themselves back home to the wife from the pub.

Graz Clock Tower

The three bells in the Graz Clocktower probably took off for Rome too. The Hourly Bell (Stundenglocke) that rings on the hour, every hour; the Fire Bell (Feuerglocke) that would vary its ringing according to the district of Graz that had a fire and the Poor Sinner’s Bell (Armensünderglocke) that around 1450 marked when someone was being executed and in the 1800s became the Closing Time Bell (Sperrstunde Glocke) marking the closing of hour of the surrounding pubs (was he in for a serious sentence from the wife if he chose to ignore is? Something satisfying about it having once been the executionar bell).

So the function of the bells had to be replaced while they were absent and who better to do the job than the unpaid volunteers who have no authority to protest? Yep. Come on stage, altar boys and girls. Cause you will be working your rattles, large and small, in place of those bells. But it’s not all slave labor for the boys and girls. They are often rewarded for performing this public service with Easter eggs, chocolate or other small culinary tokens of appreciation.

Rattle (Ratschen) played by the altar boys and girls while the bells are in Rome.

Rattle (Ratschen) played by the altar boys and girls while the bells vacation in Rome.

Meanwhile the bells remain silent throughout the three climactic days of the Catholic calendar – the Triduum Sacrum, the “Holy Three Days” which include the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, the suffering and Crucifixion on Good Friday, and the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Night.

As I write, the bells have returned again to their proper home and are ready to ring for me again for another year. Good to have you back home again!

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Here’s some additional sources about Vienna’s Pummerin and the Bells Flying to Rome:

Details in German about Pummerin and as soon as you click on the website, she’ll ring for you so pump up the volume: http://www.stephansdom.at/dom_im_detail_pummerin.htm

A video (in German) about Pummerin with good shots of her so watch it even if you can’t understand: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2rPKEzoYLE

Die Presse (Austrian daily newspaper) article about the “Bells Flying to Rome” legend: Presse Article on Bells

Vienna's Pummerin Bell

Pummerin Bell in Vienna’s St. Stephan’s Cathedral. She hangs in the north tower and is the third largest bell in Europe and the fifth largest in the world. She only rings on particularly religious holidays and on New Year’s Eve (cause she’s a bit of a party girl).

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Vienna Side Trips – Wachau: Boat, Bike, Wine

Print This Post One of the most beloved and beautiful outings:  A boat trip along the Danube combined with a bike trip through the Wachau vineyards in Grüner Vetliner country –  Krems / Stein / Dürnstein

A place that has inspired Viennese artists, satisfied wine connoisseurs (Grüner Veltliner land) and a legend of royal loyalty.

The region here along the Danube in Lower Austria is known as the Wachau (if you are hail from NC, you’ll be familiar with Wachovia, settled by Wachau immigrants). What Naples is to California, so is Wachau to Austria — for lovers of romance, white wine and quaint villages.  The mild climate and Danube valley location combine to make the Wachau the perfect place to cultivate white wine and that’s exactly what people have been doing here since the time of the Celtics (over 2000 years ago). Due to the hills, vineyards were planted in the form of terraces which you can see particularly well from the boat tour. The walls of these terraces were built without mortar, simply stone-on-stone.

Total time of outing: a day (no overnight) from Vienna

The direct train from Vienna to Krems takes an hour. Then you hop on a boat heading down the Danube to the town of Dürnstein, walk a half hour to the castle ruins (read castle tale below), bike through vineyards and along the banks of the Danube back to Krems. Along the way, have a meal (and some Grüner Veltliner) somewhere in the vineyards between Dürnstein and Krems. After arriving back in Krems, take a leisurely stroll through the old town, perhaps enjoy a mega decadent ice cream and then catch the train back to Vienna.

Danube Boat Tour from Krems to Dürnstein

Danube Boat Tour from Krems to Dürnstein

Before you go you should:
A) decide how you will get your bike. You can either rent bikes in Krems and take them on the boat with you (not a problem but you a pay a little fee for this. The advantage is that you are good to go as soon as you are off the boat and return is simple) or you sign up for next bike (also good for Neusiedler outing) to reserve bikes from a bike rake at the port in Dürnstein and return the bike to the bike rake at the port in Krems (there is no one present to help you get the bikes and return them and you reserve them online). Read further for more info on both options.
B) Decide if you will take a taxi or walk 30 minutes from the train station in Krems to the boat dock. If you take the taxi, then have your hotel perhaps call a taxi company in Krems (numbers below) and have a taxi waiting for your train.

Map from Friedensbrücke Subway Station to Franz Josefs Train Station

Map from Friedensbrücke Subway Station to Franz Josefs Train Station

Getting there: Direct train from Vienna to Krems/Donau (!). There is a Krems, Steiermark and you DO NOT want to go there for this trip. So be sure to specify Krems/Donau. The best (most direct) is the regional express train (REX) from Vienna’s Franz Josef Bahnhof.

Map from Krems Train Station to Dock where boats leave to Dürnstein

Map from Krems Train Station to Dock where boats leave to Dürnstein

Franz-Josef Bahnhof is easily accessible with the subway (U-4, Station is Friedensbrücke) – it’s about a 5 minute walk from the subway to the train station. There is at least one train every hour (more often on weekdays). The train that leaves 51 minutes after the hour, is direct and arrives about 5 minutes before the next full hour (approx. 1:03 hrs later) in Krems. So if you are spending the day, catch either the 7:51 or the 8:51 am train. At the moment (April 2014), this train leaves from platform 4 and goes directly to Krems (arrival at 8:55 am or 9:54 am). Austrians would take the later train but since you aren’t sure where you are going and still might need to pick up your bike rental and buy boat tickets, maybe opt for the earlier option. The Krems Boat Dock has a lovely little gift shop and a café where you can have a cappuccino along the Danube while waiting to board your boat.

Bike Rental Options:

Map of Bike Rentals in Krems and Stein

Map of Bike Rentals in Krems and Stein

If you choose to rent your bike and take it with you on the boat, you might want to consider this bike rental place located near the dock. Have your hotel call ahead and reserve your bikes for the day you need them (or you call or send an email).

Firma Walter Völkl, Räder-Roller-Zubehör, Steiner Landstraße 103 (Eingang Donaulände),

Tel. +43(0)2732/710 71 http://www.rundumsrad.at/

Or go the do-it-yourself option:

 Next Bike: First register yourself as a user by calling. Then once you reach a bike stand, you call number again, give them the bike number you want and you’ll get a code. You can even reserve bikes if you want to be sure there are ones available when you arrive. https://www.nextbike.at/ausleihen.html?&L=en Just make sure when you return the bikes to the bike stands at the end of your ride that the bikes lock into place or the clock will keep ticking and you will be charged more. (I admit, I did this once!).

Getting from train station to dock: Once you arrive in Krems: You can either walk from Krems train station to the Krems Dock or take a taxi. The distance is about 3-4 km. The walk will be about 20 – 30 minutes but you have no luggage and are fit, so consider this option. I’ve done it. So can you. But it is not a scenic walk since it follows a sidewalk alongside the road. Alternatively, you can have your hotel call Krems and arrange for a taxi to meet your train. Some Krems taxi numbers: 02723/72121; 02732/1718; 02732/85883. I have never done this but it should work.

Map of Dürnstein to Krems

Map of Dürnstein to Krems

Boat Tickets: At the dock, buy your ticket to Dürnstein. One way is about 16 € a person. If you have students in your group, ask about discounts. Boats leave daily at 10:15 am, 1:15 pm and 3:45 pm from Pier No 25 (the port is so small, they will direct you when you buy your tickets where to go). The boat cruise to Dürnstein takes exactly 35 minutes. Get a seat on the upper deck and buy yourself a cool drink – a beer or perhaps the Austrian version of 7-Up/Mountain Dew — Almdudler – a drink so irresistible with the dirndlerd lady and lederhosened guy on the bottle.

Danube Cruise in the Wachau

Video of boat and Dürnstein (it’s the blue church on Video): http://www.krems-wachau.at/mag/sehenswertes/erlebnisse/schiff-donau/

Dürnstein:

Danube Boat Tour from Krems to Dürnstein

Danube Boat Tour from Krems to Dürnstein

Quaintness all bundled up in one little village — at the foot of the Dürnstein castle. If the town of Dürnstein wasn’t situated here in the Danube river valley, it’d be under someone’s Christmas tree. The main road through town is a cobble-stoned pedestrian zone which will require you to walk your bikes. If you are looking for some souvenirs, here’s a great place. The region is known for its apricots and you can get some high quality apricot Schnaps here that will warm you from the inside out. Visit the “Stiftskirche Maria Himmelfahrt” / Church of Marie Accession (the church with the blue towers) built from 1721 – 1724. The blue color of the towers was rediscovered during restoration work in the 1980s and then adopted once again. Read more about Maria Ascension Church in German. Don’t know German? Admire the pretty pictures.

Dürnstein Castle Ruins: Yes. You gotta do this. Walk your bike through the town of Dürnstein and park it somewhere safe (past the cemetery a bit up the trail leading to the castle) so you can walk up to the castle. This isn’t the Bronx, the lock on the bike should suffice. Just don’t block the path; there are bound to be more hikers. Then embark on a short but steep walk. Trust me. It looks far more intimidating than it actually is and is definitely worth the sweat and strain. I’ve schlepped many a visitor up here, and every single one freaks out after about 5 minutes because it’s “so freakin’ steep.”  But think of your tightening derriere muscles and once we’re sitting on top of the castle ruins, you’ll thank me. You will exhale, and exclaim, “Wunderschön!” (Austrians at this point will usually pack out a bar of Milka, an Extrawurstsemmel and a can of Gösser or bottle of Römerquelle as a reward for a walk well done — so you might want to do as the natives too). And once you catch your breath, you’ll be taking the photos because it really does look oh so high and adventurous (who needs to know it only took a half hour?). You’ll get a great view of the Danube from up here and realize why the castle is so well-positioned (exactly at the curve of the river) and you also might spot some climbers on the rocks across the way — a favored climbing spot.

View of Dürnstein and Danube River Valley from Dürnstein Castle Ruins

View of Dürnstein and Danube River Valley from Dürnstein Castle Ruins

The Dürnstein Legend of the Kidnapped King, his Loyal Subject and the Power of Music (or be nice to people or they’ll get you)

No one will tell me the cause of my sorrow
Why they have made me a prisoner here.
Wherefore with dolour I now make my moan;
Friends had I many but help have I none.
Shameful it is that they leave me to ransom,
To languish here two winters long.
(Composed by Richard the Lionheart during his capitvity)

In 1192 (yes, 822 years ago(!)), Richard the Lionheart (Richard Coeur de Lion) was making his way back to England from his failed Crusades. Now you know how it goes, sneaking on your way home from a long journey to fight evil and ungodliness and the only route is through a neighbor’s yard who hates you. You could go the long way around and avoid said neighbor or take a short cut.

You see, Richard knew he had made a lot of enemies over the years. The French King Philippe Auguste was out to get him. And there was always the pirates to consider. So this nixed the idea of returning to the motherland by sea. But on land were the pesky robbers either out to mug or kidnap him. So he disguised himself as a lowly beggar to avoid capture (or maybe the paparazzi).

But life obviously isn’t always greener on the royal side of the fence.

Dumb, that the land route lead him through Austria – home of Duke Leopold – the guy Richard had insulted during the siege of Acre by tearing down his flag and telling him to scram. Leopold had a hissy fit and left but lived by the rule that revenge is best served cold.  So when Leopold’s troops in Austria discovered and captured Richard, Leopold surely did his happy dance.

But what to do? What to do?

There was always the Holy Roman Emperor to consider. The big guy always wanted to have his say in international spats on his territory. But the Emperor was no Richard facebook fan either because Richard once refused to recognize the Emperor’s authority by declaring, “I am born of a rank which recognizes no superior but God.”

Richard sure knew how to rub folks the wrong way.

But even if Henry IV despised Richard, there was of course all of England to consider, which kinda liked their guy. So Henry IV wasn’t sure what to do with their prisoner either. Do we ransom him to the French? To the British? Just kill the pest and be done with it? I know! Let’s pull a Scarlett O’Hara, and think about that tomorrow. Meanwhile we’ll lock him up in that castle in Dürnstein.

The English knew Richard had been captured but who knew where? Spies were sent but 007 didn’t exist yet so they failed, of course.

In walks Blondel de Nesle.

Blondel knew Richard from their escapades together in the Holy Land. Maybe he was a loyal follower of Richard I. Perhaps a faithful believer. The man could have also been simply crazy, stubborn, lost, bored or longing to have his musical talents discovered by royalty. In any case, Blondel trudged around to all the great castles in Europe playing his flute (“Will you tell that flute guy out there to stuff his pipe! We’re trying to eat our drum sticks and count our gold in peace in here!”).

Until finally…

He reached Dürnstein, played his flute and lo and behold, Richard popped his head out the window and started singing along! (OK, maybe not exactly like that). Well, according to legend, Blondel wasted no time getting his king out that very night. According to historical records, a lot of talking heads got together, had coffee and donuts, wine and drum sticks, and when topics for small talk dwindled, the English were able to secure Lionheart’s release.

Leaving Dürnstein, Biking through vineyards up Danube to Krems

Leaving Dürnstein, Biking through vineyards up Danube to Krems

Biking from Dürnstein to Krems: distance: 8 km (if you start in Spitz it is 19 km from Spitz to Krems (about a leisurely 2 hours bike tour)) http://www.planetoutdoor.de/de/touren/detail.htm?tour=52522&region=123

Exit Dürnstein town and bike through the vineyards of the Danube valley. Be sure to stop at one of the restaurants in the vineyards for some wine and lunch or lunch and wine, whichever you prefer and your biking skills can handle.  If you see a vine hanging over a door, it means they are serving this year’s wine and probably food as well. A menu placed outside is another good indicator. Be adventurous and definitely aim for a place in the middle of the vineyards.

Once you have sufficiently eaten and quenched your thirst, continue your tour.

Grüner Veltlener Grapes in Vineyards in Danube River Valley, Dürnstein

Grüner Veltlener Grapes in Vineyards in Danube River Valley, Dürnstein

Bike onward to Unterloiben and get a great view of the Göttweig Monastery across the water up on the hill. Then you reach the town of Stein which inspired some of Egon Schiele’s most beautiful paintings. Here you can go through the Linzer Gate to the cobblestone lane of Steiner Landstrasse, straight ahead. Onward to Schillerstrasse, then veer left to the Wichner Strasse to Südtiroler Platz (square) and the Steiner Gate. On the other side of the Steiner gate, the pedestrian zone for the Old Town of Krems begins. You might want to return your bikes to the dock, though, before doing a walk through town.

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Ice Cream Reward in Krems

Ice Cream Reward in Krems

City walking tours in English of Stein and Krems: http://www.krems.gv.at/system/web/zusatzseite.aspx?menuonr=220289711&detailonr=220269569

Back to Vienna:

Direct trains from Krems back to Vienna are usually hourly and generally leave about 2 minutes after the hour and take 1:02 hours.

Back in Vienna, sit back, prop your feet up, admire your cell phone photos, pour yourself a glass of Veltliner and drop me a line about your adventure.

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Krapfen – Getting Fat in Honor of Fat Tuesday

FASCHINGSKRAPFEN / FAT TUESDAY APRICOT JAM FILLED DONUTS

“The Viennese can depend on us (for high quality Krapfen]” – MA 59 – the Vienna magistrate guys patrolling for Krapfen capers

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Aida Krapfen

Aida Krapfen

Austrians take their Fasching Krapfen quite seriously. Currently the Viennese MA 59 is patrolling the Krapfen at the local markets as you read to make absolutely certain that Krapfen vendors adhere to strict Viennese standards and sell only Krapfen filled with apricot jam, which must make up at least 15% of the total Krapfen (no skimping Omi!)  and per kg of flour,  at least 6 egg yolks (get laying chickens) – you go get those Krapfen criminals, Vienna!

The consumer protection city council woman has been quoted in a press release saying, “The Viennese can depend on us [to ensure quality Krapfen].”

Don’t know about all of you, but I’ll sleep much better tonight, thanks to the grossly underappreciated MA 59.

Krapfen with apricot filling (at least 15%!)

Krapfen with apricot filling (at least 15%!)

I am sure somewhere along the line you’ve heard a tale about these baked goods.  Most likely the one concerning John F. Kennedy’s June 26, 1963 speech in front of the Berlin Schöneberg city hall when he declared ‘Today, in the free world, the proudest sentence is, “Ich bin ein Berliner”’ and how due to an errant indefinite article — an “ein/a” — he declared to the Germans and the rest of the free world that the President of the United States would not just stand by their side in times of hardship but that he was, in fact, a jelly doughnut.

Yeap. Jelly doughnuts. Gotta watch them. Especially this time of year shortly before Lent and around Fasching/Karneval/Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras.

Like right now in Austria. When to celebrate Fasching, Austrians will be consuming ungodly amounts of the yeast dough jam filled calorie bombs.

Faschingskrapfen from (gasp!) Billa

Faschingskrapfen from (gasp!) Billa

I don’t believe the word “Fasching” translates into “The-weeks-before-Lent-when-you-put-on-the-pounds,” but maybe it should. Whoever called the day “Fat Tuesday” wasn’t far off the mark.

Aida Krapfen Poster

Aida Krapfen Poster

History of the Krapfen
Legend has it that the imperial cook, Cäcilie Krapfen, who people — no doubt lovingly — referred to as Frau Cilly (written with an “C” not an “S”, mind you) started the Viennese Krapfen tradition as we know it today.  That being said, Krapfen are no new kids on the block. References to them have been supposedly found in documents as old as 1486. Apparently as far back as ancient Rome, no toga party was complete without the jelly-filled dough bombs.

So where does the “Cilli-ness” come in?

Apparently Frau Cilly served up her Cilly Balls on the Viennese balls and in 1815, the year of the Vienna Congress, 10 million Cilly balls “Cillykugeln” were served at the various diplomatic events and festivities. In a famous literary work of the early 1800s, the satirical “Eipeldauer Letters“, which are fictive letters about a journey to Vienna during Fasching, the writer of the letters observes,  “And just in case I wanted to forget that we are still in the jolly Fasching season, the Krapfen would remind me once again. “Wenn ich’s aber auch vergessen wollt’, daß wir noch im lustigen Fasching sind, so würden mich schon d’Krapfen dran erinnern.”

Actually, now that I think about it, things could have been worse for Pres. Kennedy. He could have made his speech in Vienna and declared, “Ich bin ein Wiener” which would be either a Viennese veal cutlet or a Viennese hotdog. Jelly donuts seem far more preferable.

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Fancy Schmancy Aida Krapfen

Fancy Schmancy Aida Krapfen

READ MORE:

Wager, Christoph, Ich Koche Website, http://www.ichkoche.at/geschichte-des-krapfen-artikel-406,  accessed February 2014 (language, German).

Site (in German) with Photo instructions and recipe (scroll down to 23.01.2006, 21:03 entry) for making your very own Krapfen (gotta love it and your loved ones will definitely love you) http://www.sagen.at/forum/showthread.php?t=464 accessed February 2014, (language, German).

Read the MA 59 press release here: http://www.ots.at/presseaussendung/OTS_20140218_OTS0068/fasching-wiener-marktamt-kontrolliert-krapfen.

Here the Vienna city government website with contact info for the media and for all of you if you come across any Krapfen offenders: http://www.wien.gv.at/rk/msg/2014/02/18006.html

Krone Tips for delicious Krapfen (in German) Krone article on How Much You Have to Run to Work off a Krapfen

Presse tells you where to find your Krapfen: http://diepresse.com/home/leben/ausgehen/1563220/Krapfen – they recommend the following three places:
1 Konditorei Jindrak, Herrenstraße 22–24, 4020 Linz (in Linz?!) The Upper Austrians do like to say, “In Linz, beginnt’s” (Maybe the Presse author is Upper Austrian and therefore bias)
2. Café & Konditorei Groissböck, Zentrale Neilreichgasse 96-98, 1100 Vienna, Mon to Sat, 7.30 am –7 pm, Sun and holidays, 8 am – 7 pm
3 Kurkonditorei Oberlaa, u. a. Neuer Markt 16, 1010 Vienna, daily 8 am till 8 pm
I am certainly no MA 59 by any means but Billa, Anker and Aida seem to have pretty good Krapfen too.  May the Krapfen gods foregive my unknowing American taste buds if this statement be considered sacrilege for Krapfen connoisseurs.

 

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