Photo: Lorraine Seal
Here’s a treat not to be missed if you visit Salzburg in the autumn: Kürbis or, in English, pumpkins. While not specifically a Salzburg specialty – it’s more associated with Styria in Austria’s southeast – pumpkin is enjoyed throughout the region. You’ll find it available in many forms, particularly in September and October.
Rich, creamy and ginger-coloured, pumpkin soup appears on many menus. Pumpkin may be served spiced and chopped on the side of breaded chicken fillets as a kind of salsa. Or you may enjoy it as a pureed side dish.
These are presentations of pumpkin in season, but that’s not to say you won’t encounter some form of Kürbison the menu year round. Pumpkin seed (Kürbiskern) and pumpkin seed oil (Kürbiskernöl) are extremely popular and used in many forms throughout the year.
In Austria, pumpkin seeds are a deep dull green colour, unlike the pale white ones of my American youth. Served roasted and salted, Kürbiskerne make a tasty and not-unhealthy snack. You frequently find them ground and added to sausages, where they add a nice nutty flavour and an interesting texture. They may appear as garnish in a Mediterranean presentation of fish or sprinkled on a fresh salad. Sometime you’ll find ground pumpkin seed added to the meal in which chicken is breaded and deep fried. It adds a wonderful richness and savoury flavour.
Also extremely popular is Kürbiskernöl – pumpkin seed oil. A speciality of Styria, this delicious deep green oil is so dark it’s almost black. It has a wonderful rich, nutty flavour that is like no other. It’s widely used in salad dressings, as a garnish in soups, in sauces, over pastas, and even as a startlingly but wonderful topping on vanilla ice cream.
So when you visit Salzburg, don’t pass up the chance to try pumpkin or its delicious by-products.