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Heinrich Brandes -Erdbeerstillleben


The origins of Lukowitz and the tartines

In the nineteenth century, it was fashionable to go out and eat small, handcrafted sandwiches known as tartines. In Graz, Austria, the practice of eating tartines remains alive to this day. It has, in fact, never gone out of fashion. There, in a family-run business in the Stempfergasse, dozens of classic small sandwiches like the Polnischer Aufstrich and the Liptauer are prepared by the staff on a daily base. Well-known to the townspeople, the elegant bar fills up every morning and afternoon with young and old, having their customary choice of brötchen with a small glass of local wine or drink their beer from a tiny glass known as the pfiff.

It is not unusual that the sandwiches run out before three o’ clock in the afternoon – from the store is a coming and going of delivery boys with carts stacked with beribboned boxes filled with the brötchen to lighten up functions ranging from birthdays, graduations, and unexpected visits form the parents-in-law.

One might wonder, if Lukowitz is a person, or maybe even a group of people. It is neither. It is a way of looking at things. Lukowitz is a longing for the ways and quality of the past, but transposed to the tastes and technical capabilities of the present. And the ways of Graz inspired Lukowitz to make what we have on offer here for you soon.

Open-faced culinary sandwiches, tartines, have their origin in 19th century France. Looking for a way to serve hors d’oeuvres outside of the main courses at banquets, small toasted breads were splendidly decorated and placed on separate tables in the antechamber. This practice is still common at certain types of social gathering, and though the bread has now mostly been replaced by crackers or melba toast, the reason to do so remains the same: to be able to eat tasty combinations without using cutlery.

It was found that this was useful for eating when on the go. After being in vogue in the stalls around the Palais Royal in the 1880’s, it was picked up by stylish travellers and became a truly European phenomenon in the fin-de-siècle, when promenading, visiting theatres and dancing became fashionable for city dwellers in all parts of the continent. Local varieties of these chic sandwiches have survived in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, Russia, the Baltic and Nordic countries. They will be here to stay now, too.

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