Austria makes people happy
he column's title was a slogan of the Austrian Tourist Board when I was young and good looking. That was when Radio Austria still had a short-wave service and the station call signal consisted of the first nine tones of the Blue Danube waltz.
I thought about the slogan when I recently tried to prepare myself for ECR 2012 by making Tafelspitz at home. That's fundamentally sirloin cooked in broth. The first hurdle was that French butchers (I live in France) cut the meat differently – that is, the beef cuts on the shelf are not what they are in Austria. I got the cuts parallel to the muscle fibers, but they should have been perpendicular. At least that's what I believe.
Anyway, I boiled the meat for several hours in its broth. While it was simmering (boiling slowly I mean, not Simmering, the 11th district of Vienna) I checked the internet for the side dishes: horse-radish and apple sauce. There I stumbled over a description of Plachutta, the Burger King of Viennese kitchen:
"Plachutta really is an institution. Even by Austrian standards. In a town that has just embarked on the 5th millennium (that is: 5,000 years!) of its existence and has a long tradition of eating well (and eating lots!), the competition is understandably fierce and restaurants come and go... "
The internet is always good for surprises: Damascus is nothing, Jericho a plain youngster – Vienna, with Plachutta, is the oldest city of this world. Bon appétit.
For ECR and Vienna in March I also have a special coat, hat and gloves. The coat I bought in London 25 years ago, navy blue cashmere. It's warm because that's what you need in Vienna in March and it looks distinguished. I only wear it once a year: in Vienna. And for funerals in winter. At present, ECR in Vienna happens more often. The hat is a brown Borsalino; it's brand new (compared to the coat). The one before was a Stetson from Chicago (RSNA, a good meeting) – which I lost it in a café in Vienna, or perhaps in a bookshop.
Taxi or subway in Vienna? It's not only a question of finances. The subway is cheap, fast, efficient, and clean. Taking a taxi means getting the latest news from the Balkans or right-wing Austrian views of the world. Both are entertaining. They open new windows to another world and new avenues to nowhere.
I even know a guy who walks all the way from his hotel in downtown Vienna to the Austria Center and back – it doesn't bother him when temperatures are below zero. He likes it, he told me. "You just need a comfortable pair of walking shoes." You also need stamina.
You need endurance too to weave your way through the crowded aisles of the commercial exhibition – it's not exactly my idea of amusement. Yet, it's one of the main reasons for many people, including me, to attend ECR: to get an impression of the latest products on the market.
The new specter of ECR:
Ghostwriters paired with ghostspeakers.
The latest gadget of the meeting organizers is the introduction of ghostspeakers: together with your electronic slideshow you can submit a tape of your talk read by somebody else. This fits nicely with the commercial lunch and afternoon symposia with their scientific ghostwriters. I have gone into this in depth earlier .
The evening program today? Dinner first, Austrian or Italian. Then, exhausted from visiting the exhibition, to my wide and pleasant bed with Commissaire Maigret of the Paris "Brigade Criminelle". It will be a warm spring day in the book; exactly what I need. I bought the novel today, in English – sorry, mes amis françaises. I do not know whether I have read it before. I forget the contents of books extremely fast.
However, I remember pretty well if I have heard a lecture on a radiological topic years ago – and there are many of this kind. So let's see if there is something really new in Vienna this year.
1. Rinck PA. ECR's drive for perfection has potential downside. Rinckside 2006; 17,1: 1-2.