Word of the Week: Schnitzelpracker [ˈʃnɪt͡sl̩pʁakɐ]

Noun. A meat tenderizer. Traditionally a wooden or cast metal mallet with pyramid-shaped steel studs on the face of the head, although dishwasher-friendly plastic versions are increasingly popular. Compound word consisting of Schnitzel (which needs no introduction) and Pracker (whacker), a Viennese noun stemming from the verb pracken (to hit vigorously; source unclear but likely an onomatopoeia). Commonly called a Fleischklopfer in standard German, the Austrian name belies its importance in making Vienna’s signature dish: giving your veal/pork/poultry cutlet a good shellacking before breading and frying not only softens tough meat, it also enlarges and flattens it, making your Schnitzel soft, succulent and pleasantly thin, well done with a crisp crust. Leaving it un-pracked would result in a tough, soggy affair – so put your back into it!

It follows that the Schnitzelpracker is ubiquitous in Austrian kitchens; as a potentially very painful implement, it has also gained a reputation as the weapon of choice of belligerent housewives, filling the role reserved for rolling pins in other lands. Any henpecked Wiener husband even considering coming home drunk will think twice at the prospect of facing an angry matron with one of these culinary warhammers in hand.

No matter how well you speak German, the Word Of The Week will help you impress any Viennese! While learning German is not an easy task in general, learning the language in Austria can come to be twice as complicated.

Strongly linked to local cultural individualities, the slangs change and evolve in all cultures around the world, the words and phrases make sense only when one is familiar with their cultural context. The Word of the Week is here to help you understand those singularities and impress the locals with some real Viennese words and expressions.

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