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Austrian cuisine, like much of Central Europe, is typically hearty and known for heart-stopping sausages. Although my fiancé and I had been feasting on pork knuckles and carnivorous dishes for the past several days, we remained keen on eating another round of sauerkraut and wieners. We walked past a narrow cobblestoned street with the sun already set to find our restaurant down the road. We saw a restaurant with couples eating outside and my fiancé, who was our assigned guide for this trip (I’m horrible with directions), assures us that this is the right restaurant.
We got a table and looked at the menu. Octopus salad and aubergine soup? It didn’t sound typically Austrian, but we decided to order the items anyway. As the bread and olive oil arrived, we realized that we were in the wrong restaurant. It turns out the pub we were looking for was two houses further down. No matter. Some of the best experiences in food and travel are experiencing the unexpected and this was definitely the case. And the octopus salad and aubergine soup? It turns out it was the best meal we ever had in Salzburg. The octopus was so tender and moist, and the rubbery texture that is normally associated with eating squid was almost gone, making the salad tasting more like pasta. As for the aubergine soup, although it was unrecognizable in appearance, it was incredibly sweet and creamy.
It was a quiet restaurant with mostly well-heeled Austrian couples stopping by, such as the old couple cheerfully socializing with the manager. My fiancé and I were amused by the young couple sitting next to us. The man spent more time talking on the phone while his pretty date looked utterly bored. It was surprising to see them like this, especially since they ordered the same dishes as us. If anything, we thought maybe they would be more ravenous about the food. The meal was amazing, but other features such as the intimate setting, eating outside a quiet street against the sapphire blue sky and observing Austrians go on about their ways, made me feel like an outsider truly getting a glimpse of Salzburg. Moments like these make me appreciate the wonderful experiences one has when food can literally transport you to a different place.
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