Until 50 years ago, the people in Ötztal subsisted mainly on cabbage, beets, potatoes in large quantities, all kinds of grain and corn flour, if available also meat, eggs and cheese - and lots of butter, lard and milk. The menu was refined with specialties from forests and meadows, depending on the season: for example, with mushrooms, blueberries and “Grantn” (lingonberries), or - last but not least - aromatic juniper berries and even “Grätschenkern” (stone pine nuts).
Tried and tested meets innovative treats
Agriculture, history, natural environment and, of course, influences from neighboring regions shape the regional cuisine. In Ötztal, livestock farming and a small selection of crops and cereals have been the basis of nutrition for many centuries. Today, the joy of experimentation brings new culinary delights into the game of mouth-watering delicacies.
Well-tried treats on your plate
Rosamunde Kuen cooks "Schlompar" cabbage in her kitchen in Astlehn
Rosamunde Kuen from Längenfeld is an excellent cook who loves preparing dishes according to the old Ötztal tradition. You hardly notice her 80 years, but her life experience when she works in the kitchen and talks about her childhood: “In the past, we ate a lot of cabbage because we had enough cabbage on the fields. We prepared all sorts of things: sauerkraut, “Schlomparkraut”, stuffed cabbage rolls, potatoes with cabbage ... we had or made ourselves what we needed. And that's how we grew up."
Fresh from the garden straight into the pan
The farmer’s garden was particularly important: it provided the family with fresh herbs, lettuce and vegetables and also had a medical function. Medicinal herbs for teas and ointments were often grown in the own garden. Besides fresh salads and vegetables, the young plants for cabbage and beets were also cultivated here. As soon as they became too big for the garden in spring, they were planted in the fields. Mainly cabbage and beets were available as arable crops in Ötztal. For example, Rosamunde Kuen exactly knows what to do with a head of cabbage and is happy to share her knowledge.
A fairly typical Ötztal dish
In a community that did heavy physical work, it was important that the dishes were nutritious and saturating - a mountain farmer once burned up to 6000 calories a day doing heavy work. Cooking with loads of butter was therefore just normal. Particularly popular were (and still are) the so-called "Hosnar", pieces of dough cut into corners and baked in fat. Hosnar were also served on weekdays, for example combined with fresh cabbage. This excellent dish was called "Hosnar & Schlompar" - and it is still widespread as home cooking in Ötztal today. The recipe from Rosamunde Kuen is handed down according to old family tradition.
Ötztalerei and its lovely garden is wonderfully quiet in Sandgasse at Horlachbach brook in Umhausen.
Rediscovering the familiar
Eating habits have changed a lot over the past 50 years. Fat is reduced and the demands on food increase. A young generation of cooks, bakers and confectioners is setting new standards. One of them is the confectioner Martin Scheiber, owner of the "Ötztalerei" in Umhausen. In his “ice cream workshop”, Scheiber not only tries out new flavors, he also pays strict attention to the regionality of products. You won't find any melon ice cream in the “Ötztalerei”. In return, however, tasty varieties such as rosemary-blueberry alias "Rosi", cranberry-poppy seeds, or even stone pine ice cream. For a long time, Scheiber worked on the right recipe for this ice cream made from regional milk and exclusively with regional and seasonal products. What sounds exotic is convincing right away and has since become a crowd puller.
As contradicting as Ötztal’s traditional and innovative cuisine may seem at first glance, they have a lot in common: regional products become delicacies showing you the taste of Ötztal. Exactly on the pulse of time. Because regional, seasonal and also organic cuisine is a cornerstone not only in gastronomy.
Martin Scheiber pours the freshly prepared stone pine ice cream into the ice cream machine.
Ready just now and the container is half empty again. The stone pine ice cream is a crowd favorite.
RECIPE Hosnar & Schlompar (4 people)
- 1 half white cabbage head
- 50 g pork belly
- 2 tbsp pork fat
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 onion
- Salt, ground cumin, seasoning for soup, sugar
- Oil for deep-frying
- 7 tbsp plain flour
- 1 egg
- 30 g butter
- 6 cl milk
Hosnar: Warm butter and milk. Knead with the flour and egg to a smooth dough and let rest for 20 minutes. Roll out the dough into a rectangle and approx. 2 mm thick. Cut into 6 cm rectangles and fry while swimming in hot fat.
Schlompar: Finely slice the cabbage and knead well by hand with 2 pinches of salt and ground cumin in a bowl and let it rest. Chop the onion, cut the bacon into cubes and sauté in a large pan in oil until translucent. Add a tablespoon of pork fat, then empty the cabbage into the pan, add lightly sugar and salt plus a little boiling water. Steam with regular stirring for approx. 10 minutes, season with half a spoonful of soup seasoning.
The Schlomplar cabbage and the baked Hosnar dough pieces are served in separate bowls, then the cabbage is wrapped in the Hosnar pieces.
Author: Edith Hessenberger
The ethnologist and geographer is the head of the Ötztal museums. She also does research work and publishes - as a freelance cultural scientist - on the history of mountain agriculture, tourism and alpinism. Her work further focuses on narrative research and oral history.
Edith Hessenberger also writes about the culinary specialties of the older and younger generation in the ÖTZTAL MAGAZINE - Summer 2021. The print magazine with the latest and most interesting stories about Ötztal’s spring, summer and autumn seasons is available free of charge in DE/EN from all Ötztal Tourismus Information Offices. You can order it at HERE and have it delivered for free to your home or view it as a flip-through brochure.