Show No. 14: Salzburg, Austria

"What kind of strudels are these?" I asked. A very considerate woman had just walked backstage, uttered a few choice German phrases, and departed, leaving two strudels in her wake.

"We do not know," answered a Austrian member of the Austrian opening band (pictured above). "It is a surprise."

"That's the kind of strudel I like," I remarked. "Strudel surprise."

"Go ahead!" exclaimed the Austrian. "Cut into the strudel!"

"Me?" I replied. "I should cut the strudel?'

"Yes, you," the Austrian replied. I surmised from his authoritative tone that, in Austria, it is the role of the guest to cut the strudel.

"But what can I expect to find in the strudel?" I queried.

"The woman who brought the strudel says that one is spinach and cheese," the Austrian admitted. Previously, the Austrian had withheld this information. However, I did not point out the Austrian's awkward failure to disclose. "The other is composed of vegetables," the Austrian further elucidated.

"But which strudel is which?" I asked.

"That is for you to find out," the Austrian replied.

"All right!" I exclaimed. "Let's bring an end to this game of wits and see what these strudels are, quite literally, made of." I reached for a knife that a thoughtful person had laid beside the mystery strudels for cutting purposes. The knife was heavy in my hands. I pushed the knife into one of the strudels. The strudel dough gave way before my knife. Steam rose from the strudel, filling the room with an earthy, cuminesque smell. I salivated. I swapped my knife for a spatula that a thoughtful person had placed beside the strudels for serving purposes. I then served myself a piece of strudel and tasted it.

"This strudel is the vegetable strudel," I informed the Austrian. "Logic dictates that the other strudel is spinach and cheese. I am a vegan and do not eat cheese. Thus, it is up to you to see if logic carries the day."

The Austrian nodded, picked up the knife I had just cast aside, and fell upon the uncut strudel. As I had predicted, the second strudel was composed of spinach and cheese. Logic had carried the day!

I turned to my bandmate. "This strudel is a cut above the Entenmann's apple strudel on which I was raised," I remarked.

"Yes," my bandmate replied. We sat in silence for some minutes, eating strudel.

"I cannot complain about Austria," I observed after some time. "Audiences have been friendly, if not as friendly as German audiences, and promoters have been enthusiastic about our aesthetics, if not as enthusiastic as Germans. However, I continually find that, when writing or thinking about Austria, my thoughts and comments begin and end with food, which, in Austria, is always delicious, and always available."

I thought my bandmate offer a rejoinder to my observation, but he contined to eat in silence. I assumed that my bandmate was not in the mood to converse. Thus, I cut myself a second piece of strudel and ate it without speaking.


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