The Austrians have a proverb we quite like. It goes “First bake the strudel, then sit down and ponder.” Some things to ponder could include: how big your slice will be, or whether you’ll eat your apple strudel with whipped cream or plain ice cream. You could even consider letting your strudel cool more than last time so as to avoid burning your mouth again.
My thoughts went immediately to the classic strudel scene in Tarantino’s, Inglourious Basterds. While the film came out almost ten years ago, the scene is as crisp in my mind. Almost as crisp as the flaky exterior of Hans Landa’s strudel while he plays mind games with cinema owner, Shosanna. First ordering for her, recommending she drink a cup of milk, then forcing her to wait for the fresh cream to arrive.
Strudel, the German word for ‘whirlpool’ or ‘swirl’, could even tempt a person to interpret an etymological Easter egg hidden in the film to describe her dizzying mental state. Or it could just be that Landa is Austrian and apple strudel is Austrian by origin, too.
The dessert really is a whirlpool of fruit, sugar, and spices. It’s perfectly accompanied by the abovementioned toppings, as well as custard or vanilla sauce. Some pair it with tea or coffee, while others apparently prefer champagne! While we’re not sure how true this last beverage combination is, we definitely back the idea and fully support this union.
A group who would most likely agree would be those Austro-Hungarian folks that lived during the Habsburg Empire. They also spread the early pavlova love with their fancy dinner parties! Another advocate for the strudel is the state of Texas. With early settlers coming from Germany, it’s actually no surprise the Lone Star State made it their official pastry back in 2003! Along with the Spanish sopaipilla, the strudel is one of the earliest known desserts that Texans enjoyed.
No need to limit strudels to apples, though. You can fill them with cherry, plum, apricot, poppy seed, and nuts… The last option is reminiscent of the delicious baklava from the Middle East! Savoury options can include cheese, spinach, cabbage, potato, pumpkin, and also meat. But there’s something about the apple strudel or apfelstrudel. It makes sense as to why it’s one of the national dishes of Austria. And why June 17 is its national day…
But that’s enough pondering. Let’s eat!