Revenge is a dish best served cold. The famous proverb, which first appeared in Eugène Sue’s novel Memoirs of Matilda, but made a fatal mistake. The thing that is best served cold is a traditional Austrian Brettljause.
What is it about?
Opposed to the classic dinners I had in Taiwan, which had been mostly hot, hot soup, hot rice, hot noodles, hot pot – I guess you see my point – my most preferred dinner in Austria is cold, due to many reasons.
Although I am a passionate cook – because I ate all the food I cook with passion *ba dum dss* – there is a big advantage of the Austrian cold plate. Everyone can cook it; it is a cold plate! I don’t even know whether you can call it cooking. However, you can prepare a romantic dinner using it, so it is fine. And even when you eat it alone in front of a TV with your 15 cats it is fine. Because the whole thing is a fine culinary art.
What is it below?
48% of the total area of Austria is covered in wood – not meaning that there are 48% of male population, but actually 4000000 hectare of forest. That are 3,4 billion trees and every second one cubic-meter of wood grows, which is faster than the deforestation. To safe ourselves from the danger of growing trees and fresh air, a wise man set the hype to use pieces of wood as the plate of the cold plate.
The so-called Brettl’ – short for real German: Brett – is a wooden board to hosting the divine food of a typical Austrian cold plate. Yes! – is the answer to the question whether I would start to believe in the Brettljause-God, in case there would be one, in case he/she/it did not die because of a heart attack, because what is on the plate for sure is divine but devilish at the same time.
What is it on top?
All vegetarians who haven’t commented yet, that they are vegetarian, please jump to the next paragraph. It is meat!! Two different forms of bacon, ham, cold roast beef slices, salted and smoked meat, spare rips and schnitzel are the protein portions of the plate. As an advert from my high school English book still haunts me: Pleased to meet you, meat to please you!
Vegetarians, hello back! Besides the meat, there are also non-flesh gusto pieces like all kind of cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, chilli pepper, onion, eggs, bell pepper and at my last Brettljause, more onion.
What is it beside?
Another crucial part are the spreads. Mostly hand-made, there are varieties of delicacies such as Liptauer, lard, potato-cheese-spread (literally translated), bell pepper cream and cottage cheese.
To best shovel all your things in your watery mouth is to place it on delicious Austrian Schwarzbrot. This literally black bread was most missed by me during my time in Taiwan and according to I study I’ve read it is in the Top3 things all Austrian students miss the most when they go abroad – this study got it right. Beside the bread also other local bread-celebrities such as Kornspitz (bun) and Semmerl (hand roll) are welcomed to join the rest in my guts.
What is it for?
Inner peace and a full stomach would be too simple. You see, a cold plate brings people together. Sharing a bit plate can surely create tensions, when everyone wants the last piece of bacon, for instant. All in all, it but makes you interact with your friends while eating.
Because it is already cold, you don’t have to hurry, so it takes the stress out of feeding. You have time to enjoy the different tastes, talk with your friends and have a great time. And you can have it easily at home, any time. Just put out the stuff, open a beer or wine and enjoy a cold plate!
Now, I am hungry and prepare one for myself. Enjoy!!