Schlag in the Time of Cholera

Robert's Thoughts

Comments (12) / May 29, 2020

Schlag in German is short for SCHLAGSAHNE, in English: whipped cream.

I love it! Especially when it is served with a slice of ‘Sachertorte’, my favorite dessert.

On the sixtieth day of our ‘incarceration’ – more accurately characterized as ‘quarantine due to COVID-19’– my better half, Susan, decided to surprise me by baking a Sachertorte.

This ‘torte’ (the German word for cake) derives its name from Franz Sacher (December 19, 1816 – March 11, 1907) an Austrian confectioner, best known as the inventor (at age 16) of this famous chocolate cake, now available world-wide by mail.

Sacher’s son, Eduard, opened a small hotel in 1876 opposite to the artists’ entrance of the Vienna State Opera-house on Philharmoniker Strasse. The place became a popular venue for officers of the Austro-Hungarian Army who regularly dated the Opera’s ‘rats’ (members of the Corps de Ballet) and who would meet their ‘dates’ at the hotel’s patisserie principally because it had so-called chambres séparées a la Parisienne.

Eduard Sacher died, at age 49, in 1892. His wife Anna, a woman with a ‘colorful personality’ took over the management of the business and elevated it into a place of elegance, fine food, superior service and, of course, fame – due to her father-in-law’s invention: the Sachertorte, traditionally served with whipped cream.

My last stay at the Sacher was fifteen years ago when I had to attend the annual meeting of our International Accounting Association in Vienna. The Partner organizing the meeting decided on a slightly high-brow program. He arranged tickets for our group to listen to the world-famous soprano Jessye Norman sing Schubert Lieder at the Wiener Konzert Haus the evening before the start of our conference. He further insisted that we all have dinner at the Sacher after the concert.

Dinner Jackets were of course de rigeur.

We had a splendid time though the noise emanating from the private dining room adjacent to where we were seated made it at times difficult to hear all the witty toasts that my colleagues proposed during our six-course gourmet meal.

The dinner over, three of us, resplendent in our Tuxedos, repaired to the lobby bar for a nightcap. As we waited to be served the private dining room doors burst open and Jessye Norman emerged in full flight, followed by some of her very noisy dinner guests. I rushed over to congratulate her for her performance that I had found truly moving. She smiled, looked me up and down then said: “Thank you waiter. Now please get me a glass of iced water.”

12 Responses to :
Schlag in the Time of Cholera

  1. Jacob Potashnik says:

    “Thank you, waiter. Now please get me a glass of iced water. I need to pour it down the pants of some over-heated “opera fans.”

    She was reacting to your true character, a turn-of-the-last-century mâitre d’, with classical tastes!

    As usually, Robert, your reminiscences are a feast for the imagination and for the taste buds – now, damn you… I’ll have to make a Sachertorte for Pascale.

  2. Pierre Venne says:

    mon cher Robert,
    sublime, comme toujours.
    continue à nous émerveiller.

  3. Surányi Bálint says:

    Az egyik dédapámnak optikus boltja volt az Opernringen, az Operával szemben.


  4. Brought back memories of Sacher Hotel and the Sachertorte during our visit to Vienna many moons ago. Thanks for the memories.

    Hassa Mirchandani,
    Bytownt Travel Ltd.

  5. Nancy Jean Smith says:

    Best recipe? What recipe did Susan us? Or do I have to get it out of her? Hope you are well! Miss you guys! Your words and thots are always heartwarming to read!! xo

  6. Michele Coleman says:

    According to my husband, you wanted schlag whenever you came by for dessert at lac Bouchette- he remembers it was a favourite of yours.

  7. Hannah Shapiro says:

    ..sweet memories of Lac Bouchette dinners with my chocolate torte for dessert and your request for “mitt sclhlag” which always appeared💚

  8. mark says:

    Wonderful blog name and a story that carried me away until the pole struck with your delightful surprise ending.

  9. mark says:

    That was Mark Medicoff who wrote the response.

  10. Ivan Smith says:

    I can attest that this was one of Susan’s best yet; perhaps the apricot jam from a well known tree in Budapest, the perfect crumb, or the rich chocolate and expresso glaze worthy of an aria that reaches a high C, with or without schlag!

  11. Marika Kemeny says:

    Hello Robi, I loved your Sachertorte story and I love the cake – of course mit schlag. From your story I conclude that you and Zsuzsi are doing fine during this lockdown. I hope your sister, Edit is also well. This pandemic stirs up many reminiscences among us, former European refugees, about the last great war. As I was brand new in 1944, the memories are those of my parents, who recounted lots of their experiences. I have to admit that I am not happy about living “in interesting times”, although I am experiencing this period in great comfort. It was wonderful to visit you and Edit in September, I am filled with happy memories of our evening together. Sending all three of you my warmest greetings, your cousin, Marika

  12. Alexander Gombos says:

    I have yet to comment on your storytelling prowess, and want you to know that I enjoy very much the wit and humour that emanates from your skillful pen.

    Thank you for adding some colour as we turn the pages of the calendar. Keep writing… until you can no more!

    Health to you, dear Phantom and to Susan of course, from your other godson. Alex

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