So you want to get yourself an Austrian. You’ve promised to take care of him, have invested in a few pairs of lederhosen and some delicious sausage, and are ready to give him a good home. But before you take the final step, there are some things you need to know.
In general, Austrians may be more difficult to take care of than a partner from your own culture, as their upbringing has been very different from your own. Read on for instructions on giving your Austrian the best life that you can possibly give:
1. Feed your Austrian meat at least twice a day.
Having been weaned on a diet of Wiener Schnitzel, Schweinsbraten (roast pork), and every type of sausage imaginable, your Austrian’s appetite will not be satisfied without their precious Fleisch. While you may be tempted to experiment with a veggie burger or a lunchtime smoothie, this is highly inadvisable. You will then be subjected to an entire day of hearing that your Austrian is not full – and how could he be, with no meat included in the meal you provided?
Wiener Schnitzel. If you really want to make your Austrian happy, learn how to cook this meal exactly as shown in the picture above. I have not yet succeeded, and my Austrian suffers for it.
2. If, in a worst-case scenario, you run out of meat, use bread as a back-up.
While bread will not be greeted with the exact same excitement level as meat, it does come in at a very close second. Therefore, if your situation is dire and there is no meat to be found, you may feed your Austrian bread. But not just any bread, however. Your Austrian will expect a wide assortment of the finest breads imaginable – from Semmel to Weckerl to Kipfel (all very different, in your Austrian’s eyes, yet all called rolls in English). You may top this bread with cheese, deli meats, or, if you want to give him a special treat – liverwurst spread. I would not advise trying this yourself, however – it is only meant for Austrian tastebuds.
3. Avoid placing your Austrian in an enclosed area with strong-smelling food.
With all that love for meat, bread, and cheese, you would expect your Austrian to always love food, all the time. This is not the case. I repeat, this is not the case. Never bring any food that has even a slight aroma on a plane, train, or automobile with your Austrian. In their eyes, this is one of the worst crimes against humanity. At our home, all doors to adjacent rooms must be closed and all windows must be opened when we are cooking in the kitchen. The smell of cooking escaping to the living room – or worse yet, the bed room – is not to be tolerated by any means.
I learned this characteristic about Austrians the hard way. As a brand new German Master’s student in 2010, I was supposed to go to the opera in Vienna with my fellow American classmates one evening. After sight-seeing in Vienna all day, we were running late and hadn’t had time for dinner. We decided to grab a döner kebap (Turkish sandwich with lamb meat) and eat it as we stood in line for our tickets. But – the ticket line was inside. As Americans, we didn’t really think that would be a problem. Oh, how innocent we were. Two Austrian men stood ahead of us in line. Assuming the girls speaking English behind them couldn’t understand German, their conversation went as follows:
Man 1: It is so rude of those girls to bring that food in here. It stinks. Really stinks.
Man 2: I know, I can’t believe they would do such a thing. So incredibly rude.
My American friend, in fluent German: I’m sorry, we didn’t have time for dinner and this was the only thing that was available close by.
Man 2, aghast we had understood them talking about us: You speak German?!?!
Friend: Of course.
Man 1: Well, your food still stinks.
Forty-five minutes then ensued of us continuing to eat and wait in line behind them. Awkwardness at its finest.
The Viennese have now gone so far as to make food on public transportation illegal. A sign on the subway in Vienna reads: “All passengers make the subway nicer, except for Rudi, who is eating the Dönerkebap. #ridefair No strong-smelling food on public transportation!” (I think Man #1 must have had something to do with this law.)
4. Accept your Austrian’s directness without shedding a tear.
Now, an Austrian relationship is no place for sissies. If you get yourself an Austrian, you must be prepared for your Austrian to be honest with you – brutally, painfully honest. Blissfully unaware of this quality in the early years of my relationship with my own Austrian, I approached him one winter’s day. Dressed up in my brand-new houndstooth coat, a cute winter beanie, and long matching scarf, I imagined that I looked like a sweet little snow bunny, ready to stroll down Austria’s old-fashioned, snow-covered paths. Wanting my new Austrian boyfriend to say the same, I flirtatiously asked, “So how do I look?” “That coat makes you look like my grandma,” came the reply. I’m not a sissy, I’m not a sissy.
You should however, strive to resemble the beloved Austrian Empress Sisi – spelled differently, but pronounced (almost) the same – and much more respected by the Austrians than crying at their honesty.
5. Learn to sleep without a top-sheet.
Your Austrian will detest top sheets with a passion. Having been raised with only a duvet throughout his childhood, this extra sheet between the bed and the comforter will make no sense to your Austrian. Completely inefficient. My advice? Give up your topsheet now – it is a battle you cannot win.
I once asked my Austrian to make the bed the American way for some guests who were coming to stay with us (top picture). He assured me it would be no problem and he knew what I meant…I came home with our guest to find the sheet on top and the comforter underneath. Needless to say, we were all a bit surprised.
6. Never leave a light on.
Your Austrian will be wonderful with saving energy. This is a good thing, of course, and you will want to support him in this endeavor. When visiting my hometown, however, this intense energy-focus became a point of (joking) contention between my Austrian and my mother. Why? My mother would always want to leave a light on when we left the house, to make it look like someone was home, should any robbers get any ideas. During one of my Austrian’s first visits to America, when his understanding of English idioms was not as good as it is today, we were out to dinner with my cousin and her boyfriend. Talking about a rather ditzy girl she had met the day before, my cousin goes, “You know, with her, it’s like the lights are on, but nobody’s home.” Without missing a beat, my Austrian looks at us and says, “Oh – like your mom.” He didn’t understand why we couldn’t stop laughing.
And there you have it. Taking care of your Austrian will be a rewarding experience, and you won’t regret your decision. As long as you leave the lights off. And close the doors when cooking.
Disclaimer: This post is meant to be satirical. Of course, every Austrian is different, but these are some stereotypes I’ve observed from living with my own Austrian, being surrounded by his friends and family, and from hearing stories from other Americans in Austria. I find cultural differences fascinating, and hope you enjoy the post as much as I enjoyed writing it!