Living in Vienna, I have come to learn, requires an appreciation for order. Everything has its place. I am mostly amused by this.
Plachutta, the city’s premiere restaurant with respect to Viennese cuisine, informs passersby regularly on the recommended seasonal eating. A couple of weeks ago, in the days preceding Ash Wednesday the placard told us all that it was Herringsshmaus, time for the herrings feast.
Herringsschmaus has passed, and the Viennese are no doubt now chatting up one another at outdoor tables of their favorite coffeeshops about their preferred way to enjoy white asparagus, the season for which “officially” begins in a couple of weeks. According to Plachutta.
Psst, Plachutta? Spargel Time has already begun! At the markets today, while on the usual search for an obscure dinner ingredient it seemed that every second vendor was offering white asparagus, at premium cost, of course.
Why the obsession with the white perennial? That I do not know. I do know, however, that I am amused by the fanfare and celebration associated with seasonal eating here in Austria.
What bemuses me? My inability to understand the regulations regarding outdoor seating for cafes and restaurants. “Shanigartens,” outside dining areas, are heavily regulated here in Vienna. There are guidelines concerning the size, shape, and even landscaping of outdoor seating.
The powers that be have also decided (arbitrarily, as best as I have been able to determine) that outdoor seating is prohibited between 1 November and the last day of February. Even though Vienna experienced blue skies and warm temperatures during the last week of February, diners and cafe goers had to wait until 1 March to enjoy the sun with their lunch.
One could argue that weather plays a factor in the decision; it is more cumbersome to clear a table-covered sidewalk of snow perhaps. If that is the case, why then must my snow tires remain on the vehicle until 1 April? Why must I have snow tires at all? These are the questions that bemuse me.
Nonetheless, we are now into the official outdoor-seating season, and the tables have sprung up like Spargel.