Vienna, 1880 brings us to a café in Vienna in 1880. Domestic details play an important role in understanding this time and place. Vienna is the centre of a vast empire that appears to run on coffee and cake.
Vienna, 1880: The Café
The café had opened and the first guests arrived for breakfast – or just an early morning coffee. The smell of coffee and cake was in the air. People talked and rustled with their newspapers.
One of the first guests of the day was as usual Herr Amtsrat Goldstein. He hung up his hat and coat and sat down at his usual place in a corner. Just a few minutes later Gottlieb served him a small oval tray with a cup of coffee, a small can of milk, two cubes of sugar and a Kipferl – a sweet baked yeast half moon. Only a few minutes later he was joined at his table by Herr Doktor Müller, who soon also received a coffee and a piece of Gugelhupf. He also picked a newspaper and they soon were engaged in a heated discussion about the latest news. The discussion ended when Herr Doktor Müller took a look at his pocket watch and hastily said good bye because he had to go to work. Herr Amtsrat Goldstein soon left, too.
The whole thing was watched with great interest by Herr Ignatz Rucziczka, who as usual had chosen a table at the window and half looked out to the street, half watched the other guests through the mirrors at the walls. Every now and then he made notes in a small, leather bound notebook. Herr Rucziczka had inherited some money from his parents and therefore could afford to spend most of his day at the café. He intended to become a poet or at least a famous writer. Maybe like Goethe. Although he had never really enjoyed Goethe. So far he sometimes sold one of his literary creations to the newspaper.
Herr Rucziczka had heard that to be a modern poet it was essential to spend as much time as possible at a café. He did that and made notes while slowly sipping his coffee, of which he would drink maybe one or two during the morning. At about ten he had a late breakfast consisting of a pair of sausages, mustard and grated horseraredish. Alternatively he would go to the Gasthaus zum Goldenen Hirsch and have some Beuschel – boiled veal lung and liver in a creamy sauce. In the afternoon Herr Rucziczka often returned to the café for another coffee and maybe a game of chess or cards if any willing opponents were present.