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Ash Wednesday and herring feast
Fast day and culinary highlight at the same time

The year has numerous special days and for most of them we know the respective custom and the historical background. Ash Wednesday is probably a special case here. If on the one hand it is an official religious fasting day, on the other hand it is also a culinary highlight. The so-called herring feast has become a fixed point on Ash Wednesday in many restaurants and families . But where does this tradition come from and how is the fish actually prepared according to the original recipe? The WOCHE has embarked on a historical and culinary search for traces.

Great history and colorful cuisine
The name “Ash Wednesday” goes back to the “fourth day of ashes” after Mardi Gras and the custom of blessing the ashes from the burning of the palm branches of the previous year, from which the believers then receive the ash cross. With regard to the herring feast, many preparation variants are now known (including the “Styrian herring feast”), especially from the Scandinavian countries there are numerous recipes. The herring salad in Vienna, for example, comes from Italy and comes from the “wälschen salad”, a salad with apples, herrings, sometimes with anchovies or potatoes. In the “Grätzerischen Kochbuch” from 1812 it consists only of olives and is not marinated. Over time, especially in Vienna, many hotels began to outdo each other in the preparation of herring salads, right up to the now well-known herring feast. Most of the buffets feature fish salads made from fried fish with sauces, herbs and a wide variety of ingredients. The so-called "ordinary salad" with herrings was and is the cheapest option - and maybe a good change from the usual herring feasts.