Food

Furst, a 135-year-old confectionery in Salzburg, is as much a part of the city’s history as Mozart

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This 135-year-old confectionery in Salzburg is as much a part of the city’s history as the stalwarts its truffles are named after

When Mozart was alive, back in the 18th Century, few were drawn to his music. But when he was no more, his influence went far beyond his work, reflecting in many facets of Salzburgian life. His Midas touch can be seen on Salzburg’s streets, its cafés, delicatessens and certainly in people’s minds.

And then there was Paul Fürst, a master confectioner born exactly 100 years after Mozart. Fürst became legendary in the late 19th Century, as his fame in confection spread all over Europe and beyond. His apprenticeships in dessert-making had taken him to Paris, Nice, Budapest and Vienna, till he set up his own shop in 1884, at Broadgasse 13 in Salzburg’s historic Alter Market Square. The store-and-café still stands today, and draws in customers and tourists for what is considered one of the world’s most famous chocolate bonbons. The ‘Mozartkugel’, created in 1890 after lengthy trials and experimentations, was named after Salzburg’s iconic composer, for whom Fürst had an immense admiration.

In 1905, Paul Fürst was awarded at the Paris exhibition of confectionery for his creation. Though others have come up with similar products since, the ‘original Salzburger Mozartkugel’ still stands, handmade everyday by his current descendants using Fürst’s own traditional recipe.

Furst, a 135-year-old confectionery in Salzburg, is as much a part of the city’s history as Mozart

The neat, rounded praline, with a marzipan core of fine pistachio and hazelnut nougats, is shaped like a ball around the tip of a stick and dipped in dark chocolate. Once the stick is removed, the hole it leaves behind is manually filled with chocolate, then wrapped with silver coloured foil that has Mozart’s portrait imprinted on it in blue.

The current owners, Fürst’s great, great grandson Martin and wife Doris, follow this religiously. In their own words, “Expansion was never the idea: perfecting the art was. We are interested in only our own business and exclusivity. Till date, we do not use preservatives and thus do not export out of Europe. Our chocolates need to be enjoyed within six to eight weeks. In the 129 years of confectionery business, we have just four outlets in Salzburg, not even one in Vienna. We sell exclusively from these four stores and the rest of our orders are delivered privately at our patrons’ doorsteps.”

Furst, a 135-year-old confectionery in Salzburg, is as much a part of the city’s history as Mozart

The Mozartkugel is not the only heirloom in this family confectionery. Fürst’s desire to experiment was inherited by his descendants. Over the next 100 years, the Fürsts came up with a variety of truffles and chocolates, retaining the family business’ impeccable name, as one of the finest chocolatiers of Europe. These later products were also named after personalities from Classical and Baroque eras — the truffle Bach Würfel after music composer Johann Sebastian Bach, the Wolf Dietrich Block after builder Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich, and Doppler-Kon(Ef)fekt after the famous physicist Christian Doppler. The Fürsts never drifted away from using their original ingredients of marzipan and nougats, though different kinds of liquors including rum, champagne and fruit-based ones were often added.

Their cakes, like their truffles and bonbons, are products of rich Austro-Hungarian times and cross-cultural influences. An example is the esterházy torte — a cake named after Prince Paul III Anton Esterházy of Hungary, who discovered it in the later century, travelling through the Austro-Hungarian empire. Till date, the torte made at Café Fürst is the original recipe of buttercream and spiced cognac, vanilla evenly tucked in layers of almond meringue.

One wonders at this unfettered confidence, of staying constant in an ever-changing market. The three million kugels sold each year, however, make it easier for the family to stand by tradition.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 1:58:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/century-old-slazburg-store-sells-chocolate-bonbons-named-after-mozart/article29973341.ece

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