Ein Kleiner Brauner
Espresso with milk
served the Viennese way
Viennese Petit Fours
Esterhazy Cake, Punch Squares
Name That Cake
A play of many acts
and no end
A Short Introduction
I am always a bit hesitant translating
the names of Austrian pastry.
Each time I try, I get bogged down in details,
matters become instantly complicated,
and by the time every one has been consulted -
the historian, the anthropologist,
the sociologist, the musicologist,
the food scientist, the Professor of Heraldry,
and - let's not forget - the proper authorities
at the Viennese Ministry of Cake,
I am out of breath.
must be a breeze compared
to explaining the origin and background
of Austrian pastry names.
And we are not even
talking about the subtleties
of language and tongue in cheek
the Viennese like to confuse us Zugereiste* with!
- entering stage left -
Named after the House of Esterhazy,
a Hungarian noble family
that goes back to the Middle Ages
and whose destiny has been intertwined
with the Habsburg Empire for centuries.
It is beyond explanation why they ended up
having a rather humble Schnitte (slice)
and not a whole cake elevated to their peerage!
A Schnitte simply does not reflect adequately
the weight of history this brave family
has helped carry for more than half a Millennium!
Luckily, we are living
in the 21st Century and
in the European Union.
In the good old times,
wars have been started
over less weighty incidences.
You see, nothing is simple,
everything is complex
where Austrian pastry naming
An Austrian pastry chef may well cut
a Stück Torte - slice of cake
(for simplicity's sake,
cake here is a stand-in for Torte,
we don't want to cry into our coffee
over the cake versus Torte question, do we?),
but he will not cut a Torte into Schnitten!
I herewith declare
of Act I
Losely translated as Punch Squares,
but trust me, there is so much more
to be told about it!
In Vienna: Anybody who arrived here
since the House of Habsburg collapsed
18 October 2010
at the newly reopened
Corner of Operngasse
a stone's throw
from the State Opera
Images and Text © by Merisi