One day, I must have been in my thirties for sure, I visited a Christmas market in Lower Austria. There were all kinds of delicacies on offer. And I was pleased to note that Cevapcici were also on the menu. I bought a portion and ate with a ravenous appetite. “I have a question,” I then addressed the cook. “This is not horse meat, is it?” The man looked at me with irritation. “Why horse meat? It’s beef and a little pork, of course.” I was taken aback for a moment. A few seconds later I exclaimed, “Is that customary…I mean that Cevapcici consist of beef and pork?” The man raised his eyebrows and with that the conversation was over.
For decades I had believed that Cevapcici are made with horse meat. The origin of this belief was my fondness to sit in an open-air restaurant in the Wurstelprater even as a child eating Cevapcici and thinking I was eating horse meat. In fact, I perceived a unique taste which I did not associate with beef or pork. Nowadays I ask myself if I had been under a delusion? Or did they really offer the “wrong” kind of Cevapcici for consumption at that restaurant? I love Cevapcici still. At a “Kellergassen”-festival (a street lined with wine cellars) – again in Lower Austria – I also ate Cevapcici. “Special” ones. They were exceptionally well seasoned but did not taste like horse meat.
If I had eaten Cevapcici at the “Schweizerhaus”, the fauxpas at the Christmas market would not have happened to me. They definitely serve the classic Cevapcici there. But I never ate them there as a child. The “Schweizerhaus” in the Prater is something of an establishment. In 1920, Karl Kolarik took over the business at just the age of 19 with the help of his parents. And the “Schweizerhaus” became a success story. I have a special liking for potato chips, which taste superbly. The production of potato chips was introduced as early as 1925. One year later Karl Kolarik discovered the “Original Budweiser Budvar” beer. During WWII, the “Schweizerhaus” was razed to the ground. Karl Kolarik and his wife Else did not allow themselves to be impressed by this and started with the reconstruction of the “Schweizerhaus” in a wagon of the Giant Ferris Wheel and a small wooden hut. The in-house production of fried potato patties and potato chips started 1954 and originated the start of the established street sales to this very day.
I watch out every year for the day when the “Schweizerhaus” usually starts its season on the 15th of March. No, it does not draw me towards the open-air restaurant, I dutifully queue at the street counter and preferably buy potato chips, sometimes fried potato patties with garlic. And hush! Mum’s the word about that nonsense about the Cevapcici, please.
© Jürgen Heimlich 2021-10-10