I suspect that the way I eat has been permanently changed by my time here in Austria. The things I eat, the way I shop, the way I think about food have all been affected by seeing the things I eat through a different lens. Food here is simpler, in general. The produce section at the grocery store is smaller, with fewer varieties of things. But the food is more likely to be organic and at least relatively local, and the selection is guaranteed to be more seasonal. There are about 3 varieties of chips at our closest grocery store (which is in our building) and the soda aisle, while sizable, is stocked equally with varieties of sparkling waters and fruit-juice flavored beverages.
Austrians, of course, also have their specialties. I worry I’ll never be able to eat another donut after being spoiled by the Krapfen here. Potato salad from elsewhere is unlikely to measure up. My standards for hot dogs/sausages have been raised. And my travels beyond Austria mean that I’ll never eat spaghetti, a chocolate croissant, or a ham and cheese sandwich, with the same indifference again.
And then there’s the orange juice. It’s not exactly something that’s synonymous with Austria or the Alps, but the orange juice we drink here — all of it — is fresh squeezed. Our corner grocery store has an orange-juice squeezing machine (almost all grocery stores do) and that’s how we get ours. (After a few months of drinking this fresh-squeezed awesomeness, and wondering where it had been all my life, I looked up information on the manufacturing process of typical store-bought orange juice, and I learned a lot. And now I know why it’s not nearly as good.) Of course, the lack of homogenization means that sometimes, we get a bottle that isn’t super lovely — it’s a little sour, or overly sweet — but even that has become comforting, because it actually tastes like oranges. (Hint: in general, it’s not as good when the oranges are out of season. What a concept.)
Today, several of us (myself, Benjamin and Liam) are a bit under the weather, with spring sniffles and sore throats (it figures, on the first decent spring weekend we’ve had) and we stocked up on orange juice. I’ve already enjoyed a couple of bottles today, and I don’t think the loveliness of it will ever cease to impress me. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to the processed stuff. I’ve been completely spoiled.