Living in a relatively pork-free country makes one do funny things when travelling abroad. You find yourself sniffing out bacon like a bloodhound and salivating salaciously over sausages. In Vienna, where sausages lurk in stands around every fourth corner, I was pulled like a helpless puppet toward the scent of smoky pork and grease. I somehow ended up ordering myself a tasty beer and a snack in excellent German to a woman with a grill of wursts (apparently my languages resurrect themselves under the hypnotic groans of my belly), and sat down at a picnic table in front of a church to dine. At the end of my table sat an old sailor of a man with a fantastic nose, and a younger fellow with wild, cavernous eyes and tattooed fingers. We briefly glared at each other, then went about the business of devouring our wursts. That hot kiss of mustard... the grainy bread... the beer... It seemed a sin to be so fiercely enjoying myself in front of a church.
But let's travel to Bratislava, where I was confronted by a delicious delight— pickled herring with gherkins and onions, served in a jar. I haven't the foggiest what this wondrousness is called, but oh my goodness... sit me in front of a pickled herring, and I'll be the happiest girl on the planet. My Danish roots come joyously springing out through my tastebuds, and I'm instantly grinning from ear to ear, drumming my feet.
After such an immense pleasure, I decided to indulge in a more traditional fare which frankly was, a bit too much for me. I introduce you to Bryndzové Halušky, dainty little potato dumplings swimming in a sheep cheese. I love potato dumplings and I love sheep cheese, so in theory, I should have been as happy as a clam— but this was overkill. Had the serving been a fourth of the size of what was set down in front of me, I think my stomach would not have protested. I'm just not built to handle that much lactose.
Apparently my stomach forgave me somewhere over the Austrian border, because later that same night, I wandered into the Viennese tavern Zu den 2 Lieserln, on Burgasse. Greeted by a dense cloud of cigarette smoke and an ornery, moustachioed older gentleman, I peeked at the dated wood panelling and omnipresence of green, and sensed I was in for something tasty. Sometimes you just know. What I couldn't predict however, was the mastadonic proportions of the tavern's famed wienerschnitzel— which forced an "Oh mein Gott!" from my lips, and a slight chuckle from the man.
The pounded and breaded pork was roughly the size of my head, if it had been flattened. And because I was still under the pork-craze, I got my schnitzel stuffed with ham— oh, and peppers. The crispness of the breading was a wonderful contrast to the tender meat, and the sour, pickled peppers seemed to cut the well, for lack of a better word, porkiness. I took my time, even pausing to sketch my dinner plate, and did my very best to make it through as much of the schnitzel as possible. When I got to that elusive point just before being full, I put the fork and knife aside, and glanced up at the white moustache in the corner. He knew. He was ready with a container for me to carry the rest of my dinner home.
"I really thought I was going to do it!" I grinned.
A short laugh, and a shake of a head was his reponse.