Continuing down the massive avenues of Lothringerstrasse away from the city centre brings you to Naschmarkt, a 1.5-kilometre deli and food market stretching between the roaring Viennese commute. While this market once sold milk bottles, it has gradually transformed into the monster it is today. Starting as restaurants, fishmongers, and bars near the Secession, one of Vienna’s famous galleries domed by a gilded and blooming hydrangea, stalls morph into Middle Eastern delis, various fruit and vegetable grocers, and the occasional bistro. Opposite a bustling sausage stand, we indulged ourselves with a spot of people-watching and a glass of Sturm, a cloudy wine served early during the process of fermentation. Traversing the endless market towards Kettenbrückengasse, we also stumbled across a shop selling freshly made, poppy seed-stuffed pastries (Mohnzelten), which were quickly demolished while perusing the various spice stalls at the market’s end.
A true experience of the culinary culture of Vienna necessitates a visit to a Viennese coffee house. The Viennese coffee house is a 300-year old institution, a cultural and artistic haven where personalities of the day, such as Freud, Klimt, and Trotsky, would gather. Originating from the introduction of coffee to Central Europe during the Turks’ invasion in the 1600s, hundreds of coffee houses dot the Viennese cityscape. Much like a wonderful cup of coffee, this peculiar culture has been steeped over time as it developed into an art form. Even today, time passes by more slowly as you cross the threshold into a coffee house in Vienna. Tuxedo-clad, white-gloved waiters glide between tables in often classically decorated interiors. One does not sit down and order a “coffee”, rather, it is a Schwarzer or Mocca for a black coffee or a Melange for a cappuccino. Each cup is served on a silver tray and accompanied by a glass of water. Once you sit down, there is little pressure to leave; rather, coffee houses are a place where customers can come and spend an entire day to chat with friends or to read. There is little wonder that they have been described by UNESCO as places “where time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill”.