About “Jewish Viennese Food”: Jewish Vienna, It’s Cuisine & Sigmund Freud

“If I speak of Vienna,
it must be in the past tense,
as a man speaks of a woman he has loved and who is dead.”

Erich von Stroheim [Jewish filmmaker and actor]

Greetings, I am Nino Shaye Weiss, an unbridled foodnik kibbitzing (aka blogging) from Vienna, a place steeped in history and culture. The city of music and dreams, once loved and hated by Sigmund Freud, has been home to many celebrated Jewish figures, including Theodor Herzl, Gustav Mahler, Viktor Frankl, Martin Buber, Stefan Zweig, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Arnold Schoenberg, and Erich von Stroheim, among others. In my blog, I endeavor to pay tribute to these great figures as well as to the anonymous Jew of pre-Shoah Jewish Vienna by delving into memory’s kitchen and celebrating their once-rich and diverse cuisine, now lost forever. From Italian and Hungarian influences to Bohemian and Galician, I explore the eclectic flavors and unique stories of this previously vibrant culinary tradition, often with a Freudian twist. Join me in my virtual kitchen as I offer a culinary armchair therapy for a fictional restaurant, and discover the delicious world of Jewish Viennese food.

Remnants of a feast: Sigmund Freud and his daughter Anna sitting outside at a table with the remains of a meal from 1920.
Remnants of a feast: Sigmund Freud and his daughter Anna sitting outside at a table with the remains of a meal from 1920.

I am writing this blog from Vienna’s Island of Shattered Glass (“Glasscherbeninsel” a.k.a. “Mazzesinsel”, Matzo Island), the name of which stands as a tribute to the many Jews who used to live here. Post-World War II Vienna is marked by the destruction of the vast majority of its Jewish inhabitants along with the heart of its former vibrant intellectual, cultural and social life. The Viennese are still struggling to fully grasp the void created by this rupture of civilization.

Viennese Cooking

Yet, the cosmopolis of Vienna at the turn of the 1900 century was cherished by its Jewish inhabitants, despite or maybe even against the city’s visceral old and new anti-Semitism. Many wanted to assimilate and even dissolve in the local fabric by going as far as to convert to Catholicism. Cookbooks were written that had a very large audience and even catered to the Jewish more or less secular population too. One such cookbook was Olga and Adolf Hess’ “Viennese Cooking” from 19131, a year before World War I, decades before the Shoah. The book also contains in code — a code known by all more or less assimilated Jews in Vienna — food suitable for Passover and for other holidays and possible kosher requirements. This is how the English translator of “Viennese Cooking”, Carla Schlesinger, introduced and lauded Viennese Cuisine, “one of the most refined eating traditions of the civilized world”, in 1952 in New York to its post-Shoah audience, which included many refugees and survivors:

VIENNESE COOKING has a unique pedigree. For many centuries, Vienna, capital city of a mighty Empire and situated on the crossroads of Central Europe, drew its cultural incentive from a variety of nations; and Viennese epicures considered delicacies to be no less important culturally as conventional works of art. They tasted the preferred dishes of herdsmen from Hugarian plains and the Transylvanian and Carpathian mauntains, the food of Alpine lumbermen, the fare of Czech peasants and Serb mountaineers, the culinary extravaganzas of Polish nobles and Turkish Pashas, the dainties of Italian seamen and Levantine traders. The Viennese were choosy: they kept the best, and put their pride into improving it even further. There were at least as many national cookeries in the realm as there were languages spoken by its people; according to official statistics, sixteen languages were spoken in the Monarchy under the reign of Francis Joseph I.

Vienna’s Continuing Hostility Towards Jews

But in 2014 the Viennese weren’t even able, or more precisely, they likely conveniently forgot to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Sigmund Freud’s death. Scholars frequently discuss the public’s indifferent, somewhat hostile attitude toward Freud and psychoanalysis. Historian Peter Gay largely sums up the issue with the following statement: “Vienna, it seems, has largely repressed Freud.”2 One might add that the Viennese have done so especially with regards to the psychologist’s Jewish heritage as the city has done with its own Jewish past as a whole. Many of the articles here discuss Vienna’s lost cultural background with regards to the impact the Jews have had culinarily throughout the years.

Sigmund Freud’s haunting specter

Sigmund Freud-Stele 'The Secret of Dreams' next to the Bellevuewiese, where Freud's favored hotel Bellevue used to be, with the city of Vienna in the background.
Sigmund Freud-Stele ‘The Secret of Dreams’ with Vienna in the background. This is where Freud began the inception of The Interpretation of Dreams. Read more ->

Sigmund Freud, who is perhaps the most famous thinker to have come out of Vienna, happened to have had very particular tastes and preferences regarding his meals. He offered at least one cookbook to his wife, Martha Bernays, and later, another cookbook to their cook. And then there’s Freud’s own (apocryphal) cookbook. The pages you will find here try to investigate, albeit light-heartedly, the relationship between food and thought, particularly of psychoanalytical ideas and Viennese food with a special focus on its more or less repressed Jewish influences.

For me, cooking is akin to treatment. By researching a particular food’s history, I begin to work through the events in my own personal life. Even the simple process of cooking itself — the act of washing and cutting up vegetables, for instance — is a rewarding, meditative ritual. Then, in turn, serving that food to guests, friends, and family members is rejuvenating and therapeutic.

Of course, cooking cannot replace proper psychotherapy

Cooking as therapy: Cutting up vegetables as meditative exercise.
Cutting up vegetables: a meditative exercise.

Here I’m particularly interested in the cultural – especially sociological and anthropological – aspects of food. Vienna has a kind of melting-pot cuisine. Its cuisine has been influenced by its neighbors and immigrants, including the Jewish, Italian, Hungarian, and Bohemian nations, all of whom lived in or interacted with Austria at some point throughout its history.

We can, indeed, gain valuable insight into Viennese ideals and values through immersing ourselves in its culinary culture. Psychoanalysis, which has come to shape the Western world of the twentieth century is, indeed, an apt lens through which we can come to appreciate national, and perhaps even international narratives. The process of becoming aware of one’s cuisine, of the recipes, ingredients, and flavors through which it expresses itself, can serve as the culinary equivalent to psychotherapeutic analysis.

Ever since your mother’s milk, all eating must surely be an oral fixation

The origin of the Oedipus complex: When visiting the newly opened Kunsthistorische Museum in Vienna in 1891 Sigmund Freud was defied by the infant’s look at the viewer in Orazio Gentileschi’s (the father of Artemisia) breastfeeding Virgin Marie.
The origin of the Oedipus complex: When visiting the newly opened Kunsthistorische Museum in Vienna in 1891 Sigmund Freud was defied by the infant’s look at the viewer in Orazio Gentileschi’s (the father of Artemisia) breastfeeding Virgin Marie. Continue reading->

If you believe in the therapeutic potential of the culinary arts, and you enjoy a bit of academic humor, you’ve come to the right place. Put briefly, what I hope to evoke through my blog are some of the stories we as humans tell about ourselves through our food.

While to some extent my culinary interests have a Southern Central-European and Austro-Hungarian focus, my kitchen is very cosmopolitan, or at least European. Thanks to my time in Vienna, Budapest, Paris, Tel-Aviv, as well as my frequently prolonged stays in Venice and New York, I often blend cuisines and flavors in my culinary explorations.

My Cosmopolitan Kitchen

“Schnitzels eaten in Vienna since January 1st.” This counter is part of the permanent media installation “Pi” by Canadian artist Ken Lum (located in the Opernpassage, between the subway entrance near the Secession building and the Naschmarkt and the subway stop “Karlsplatz”).
“Schnitzels eaten in Vienna since January 1st.” This counter is part of the permanent media installation “Pi” by Canadian artist Ken Lum (located in the Opernpassage, between the subway entrance near the Secession building and the Naschmarkt and the subway stop “Karlsplatz”). Continue reading->

Modern technology has made international travel and exchange of information easier than ever. It has developed the globalization of food production. New ways of cooking mean new ways of telling stories. That is partially why I like to think of this blog as exploring textual landscapes and analyzing the new worlds they reveal.


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  1. Olga and Adolf Hess, Viennese Cooking (Vienna: 1913 / New York: Crown, 1952)
  2. Most of the recognition Freud has received in Vienna has been the work of foreigners: His bust, which now stands in the University, was presented by Ernest Jones. There is in Vienna, crisscrossed with streets named after its great, or at least prominent, residents, no Freudgasse….The public indifference, the latent hostility, are chilling. Freud, the first psychologist to chart the workings of ambivalence, had, in this city he hated but could not leave, abundant materials for the exercise of mixed feelings. Vienna, it seems, has largely repressed Freud.

    Edmund Engelman (Author, Photographer), Peter Gay (Introduction), Berggasse 19: Sigmund Freud’s Home and Office, Vienna, 1938: The Photographs of Edmund Engelman, (U. of Chicago Press, 1981), p14.

    Though Edie Jarolim, aka Freud’s Butcher, expresses some hope in her first post for her blog on Freud’s world over at Psychology Today. See “Did Vienna Repress Freud? A New Attitude in Austria. Given scant attention in Vienna for decades, Freud may be staging a comeback.” (published May 15th, 2018) (retrieved on May 18th, 2018 URL: <https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/freud-s-world/201805/did-vienna-repress-freud-new-attitude-in-austria>).


  1. What a great idea for a food blog! and funny, too. Can’t wait to read more. I work on the history of the Viennese Jewish community myself. It would be nice to meet, next time when I’m in Vienna. Best.

    1. I completely missed this comment! So sorry. Thank you for this positiv feedback. I hope we can meet once this corona crises is behind us. Stay safe and healthy

  2. i like your idea for a food blog. I hope you will share with us some special things. thank u bro..

  3. I stumbled on this website by searching something about Latkes; also known as Reibekuchen in Rheinland were they are really popular. I always thought that these were a meat type food and for that reason could not be made with butter. But you pointed out that they originated as a cheese contraption which makes them a milk food instead that should not be eaten with meat. But the switch to potato allows me to still use them with meat. I am not a religious Jidd. and know very little about all such traditions. Born in the ’30s I am one of the last living survivors of .. well U know. Lost almost all mishpoge and had no one to tell me anything. Picked up a few words here and a habit there. After our liberation in the Netherlands nobody in the family wanted to speak about it. Only our friendly Dutch neighbors reminded us that we were of Jewish descent by always telling us that they apparently forgot to send us to the gas chambers too. !

    NB most of the Netherlands and probably most of Europe and the world is becoming more and more openly anti Jews.

  4. So thrilled to have come across your blog! Wonderful, heart warming reading, educational and great recipes and ideas.
    I am from Bukovina Chernowitz. Left late 80’s for Canada. My cultural roots are in Austria, where Bukovina belonged before the first world war, and where my grandmother was born. I am fascinated by your stories and your writing skills. Please don’t stop writing – there is so much truth and care in what you do.
    I personally quit my highly paid job – to start catering Bukovina Cuisine in Montreal, which is exactly what you describe – jewish cuisine, influenced by many cultures that historically intertwined in this region. It’s important to share our heritage – to prolong the life of our ancestors and the culture.

    1. Hi Karina! That’s so kind of you to let us know how much you appreciate this website! Why not tell us the name of your catering company, with a link? I’d very much like to see and study your offer!

      1. My catering offer is very small as I am the only one cooking. It is barely a source of income. I started it when my parents passed away, feeling the need to carry on – stay true to my heritage, share the love and the flavours.
        My page on FB is called exactly that – Bukovina Cuisine, and I thank you for your interest!

          1. Thank you – It’s a huge compliment!
            I am really a boutique production, basically sharing the food from our table with as many people as I able to cope with :) – spreading the love and the culture of my ancestors.
            One day I just might personally deliver to Vienna – stay tuned!
            Wishing you and yours best of health!

  5. Karina again!

    Curious if anyone else is familiar with a dish called a Geyurindeke Toch – my grandma’s pride.
    It is from ‘Latkes’ family – a large potato cake made with yeast. In fact, I only was introduced to Latkes name when I arrived to Canada – in my town they were called Tochekleh.

    The only references I was able to find on the web are below. I am working on perfecting my own version, before offering it to my audience. :)

    Best wishes,



  6. Hi. My maternal family is from Vienna (last names: Spitzer, Holzer, Fantner, and Wolfinger.) My family fled Vienna after the Anschluss and went to the only country that would take them… Bolivia. My uncle Leo Spitzer wrote a book about it called Hotel Bolivia.

    Eventually, they settled in the USA where I grew up. I now live in Israel and my wife and I were in Vienna just last week. My family lived exactly across the street from Sigmund Freud in the same building as his daughter Anna, Berggasse 20.

    Anyhow, I grew up on Viennese food and have been trying to reconstruct it for many years. My grandmother passed away in 1988 and she was the matriarch who made all the dishes: Zwetschgenknodel, nockerl, Austrian gulash, etc. They did not keep kosher, so our schnitzel was pork. My family and I keep kosher today and I have been enjoying adapting the dishes. This is why I was thrilled to see your blog! Please keep posting! I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying it.

    Just wanted to let you know how appreciative I am!

    Warmest regards,

    1. Hey Erik,

      I can’t begin to tell you how much your message means to me. Reading about your family’s incredible history in Vienna, their journey to Bolivia, and then finally settling in the USA—it’s nothing short of awe-inspiring. The strength and determination they must have had during those challenging times truly touch my heart.

      And living in the same building as Sigmund Freud’s daughter Anna, just across from the Professor? That’s absolutely mind-blowing! Vienna’s history is so rich, and your family’s personal connection to the city adds an extra layer of fascination.

      I’m genuinely thrilled that you’ve found joy in my blog, Jewish Food of Vienna. Knowing that it brings back cherished memories of your grandmother’s kitchen and the traditional dishes she prepared fills me with such warmth. The fact that you’re keeping those culinary traditions alive while adapting them to your kosher lifestyle is a beautiful way of honoring your heritage.

      I must admit, I tend to write long-winded and brainy posts, but it’s all because of my love for the subject and a desire to provide well-researched content. Even if my posts are irregular, it’s the passion for Viennese Jewish food and the connections I make with wonderful readers like you that keep me going.

      I’d love to hear more about your family’s culinary journey and if there are any specific dishes you’d like to see featured on the blog. Your input and personal touch could add so much more to the content I create.

      Thank you, Erik, for your kind words and support. It’s readers like you who make this journey so rewarding and meaningful. Keep an eye out for more posts in the future, and if you ever want to chat or have any questions, don’t hesitate to drop me a line.

      Warmest regards,

      Nino Shaye Weiss
      Jewish Food of Vienna Blog

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