7 German Words That Will Spoil Austrians’ Appetite

Erdäpfel, Topfen & Paradeiser are more than just words.

Whether you love Schnitzel and Knödel or are partial to Apfelstrudel and Sachertorte, Austrians love their local delicacies and everything associated with it. 

But woe betide anyone who dares call a beloved dish by its Standard German name – you will be rewarded with dirty looks, finishing your lunch early and alone. Here are some terms that just don’t schmeck for Austrians. 


Granted, you may prepare a Gemüsebrühe (vegetable broth) as part of a recipe. But you should never, ever order Brühe as a starter if what you actually mean is one of Austria’s delicious soups. Whether it is Frittatensuppe, Leberknödelsuppe or Spargelcremesuppe,make sure to order the right kind – you didn’t “swim here on noodle soup,” after all (Du bist ja nicht auf der Nudelsuppe dahergeschwommen). 

Pampe, Tunke

Germans certainly mean well, but both Pampe and Tunke are about as appetizing to Austrian ears as “moist,” “nosh” and “mealy” to an English speaker. It’s Sauce all the way in the Alpine Republic – and you never, never, ever add it to Schnitzel! Seriously, never (it makes the crust soggy). 


Just plain weird to Austrian ears, most will probably not even know what this popular German snack is. In fact, Frikadellenare flat, pan-fried meatballs which are incidentally also quite popular in Austria – only here, they have a much more evocative name: Fleischlaberl (literally “meat patties“). Here, Preiselbeeren (cranberries) are an acceptable condiment, by the way – just like your Schnitzel.


When Austria joined the EU in 1995, it was unaware of the pitfalls of Brussels bureaucracy and standardization of everything, including the curvature of bananas – so it was a very rude awakening when the name of their beloved Marmeladen (jams) became an object of contention for years. Rumors that the Union would attempt to standardize jams under the – German! – term Konfitüre made Austrians’ blood boil. Fortunately, Marmelade stayed Marmelade, otherwise we couldn’t guarantee your daily bread (with butter and jam). 


A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But Rosenkohl certainly doesn’t taste the same as Kohlsprossen (brussels sprouts) when you call it that. Roses are red, violets are blue, I will eat some Kolhsprossen but leave the Rosenkohl to you.  


Yes, Austrians can Pfannkuchen.They also make pancakes. But both are not and will never be the same as Palatschinken. What the Czechs, Hungarians, Slovaks ( as well as Bosnians, Croatians, Bulgarians, Romanians, Italians, Slovenes, Serbians – okay, a bunch of people) gifted to Austrian cuisine can simply not be described by a term that denotes a pan and a cake. Palatschinken are sensual, like crêpe.And while Pfannkuchen can be many things, sensual is not one of them. 


An Austrian may occasionally have a Kloß im Hals ( a lump in one’s throat), yes. But they’ll certainly never abide Klöße (dumplings) on their plate. There’s a reason Czechs call this delicious, multi-faceted dish knedlíky, the Italians canederli and the French quenelle – because it’s a fitting name for something that tastes this good. A lesson that even the German-language Wikipedia – who titled their article on this delicacy “Kloß” still has to learn. A portion of tasty Marillenknödel in the Wachau would certainly rectify that. 

Benjamin Wolf
Benjamin studied Journalism, History and International Affairs. After stints with Cafébabel in Paris and Arte in Strasbourg, he is now working as managing editor and COO for Metropole in Vienna. Fields of expertise are politics, economics, culture, and history.Photo: Visual Hub

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