Vienna sausages threatened by kebabs and hamburgers

Vienna sausages threatened by kebabs and hamburgers
Vienna sausages threatened by kebabs and hamburgers

Like cafés, balls or the Opera, they symbolize the Viennese way of life, but are threatened with disappearance: the Austrian capital wants to protect its famous sausage stands by having them classified by Unesco.

“We are crossing our fingers for satisfaction,” Patrick Tondl, one of the founders of the association which submitted the application for Intangible Cultural Heritage, explains to AFP, with the support of the mayor of Vienna Michael Ludwig.

Owner of the oldest “Würstelstand” in the city, opened in 1928, he offers day and night, like some 180 other kiosks, sausages to the two million inhabitants in a cardboard tray, with a slice of bread, mustard and horseradish. If customers are there, the number of stalls has declined over the last ten years, more than a hundred having been converted to now offer pizzas, kebabs, hamburgers or Asian dishes, according to the Chamber of Commerce.

Proud to be in the fourth generation, Tondl, 36, sees above all in these stands, pure products of Germanic gastronomy, places for “meetings” and “exchanges”. “Everyone is on an equal footing. A wealthy banker can come and chat with someone who scrapes the bottom line,” he says of an increasingly rare mix.

The tradition of street stalls dates back to imperial times. At the time, they moved according to demand, settling for example outside factories or schools. Since then, many of them have been able to evolve and adapt to their customers. The traditional “Bratwurst” or “Käsekrainer” (cheese sausages) then appeared on the menu, which now also includes a vegetarian version.

A revised menu in keeping with the taste of the times and sometimes a more modern design have given, according to Patrick Tondl, “new impetus” to this tradition which has also won over tourists. “This is what we want to eat when we come to Austria,” says Sam Bowden, a 28-year-old Australian who savors, on a high table, what he considers to be “probably one of the best sausages” in Austria. his life. A “typical” image that the UNESCO application intends to reinforce, notes Sebastian Hackenschmidt, author of a photo book on the subject.

Echoing the owners of sausage kiosks, he highlights the “social function” of these places with “regular customers”, which are not just “takeaway sales”. But their “inclusive” aspect is “a bit of a myth” in a capital where 40% of the population was born abroad, he adds.

Faced with “changing habits”, the battle is also cultural, with the far right stronger than ever: given the victory in the legislative elections in the fall, the FPÖ party never misses the opportunity to denounce standardization under the effects of globalization.

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