Let your soul wander the world and feed your soul the best knowledge and food so that it grows and enjoys the experience of being alive. With an interest in travelling and spirituality, I am thrilled to tell you about an organisation that will teach you more about your soul and how to enjoy the most out of life and that is the unique and unusual Pizzeria Vesuvio da Mario located at Arnsteingasse 30 A-1150, just off the famous and popular Mariahilfer Straße.
I have visited this establishment on a number of occasions solely for pizza and this Indian family have a real story as to how they ended up in Austria and decided to serve Italian cuisine. However, they’re now really showing their routes and passion for India by offering regular Ayurveda cooking classes and brunches, which are open to locals and tourists. Now before these events become even more popular, I knew that I had to share them with you so please do read the rest of this review on my experience with them. This is because what they are offering is a great opportunity for the solo traveller, couples or groups who want to have an introduction to Ayurveda as well as to eat some scrumptious food.
The importance and popularity Ayurvedic cooking
For those of you that are not familiar with Ayurveda, “ayr” means life and “veda” means science or knowledge; therefore, Ayurveda looks at the science of life and is an ancient form of medicine which looks at the body and the soul together. When referring to the importance of Ayurveda, Dr. Deepak Chopra once said that, “the body must be credited with an immense fund of know-how” and the best way to learn about Ayurveda and how to feed your body is through an Ayurvedic cooking class with Surjeet (Mario) Saini and his wife, Usha (Maria) Saini.
Ayurveda considers cooking, nutrition and digestion as one process that should not be considered in silo. It believes that it is not only the food that you eat but also how it is cooked that needs to be considered carefully. It has its own cooking methods that help people to have an idea about the right way of cooking and eating to help heal your body when you are unwell or to energise your body and allow you to enjoy life to the maximum when your health is in a good place.
During your cooking class, Mario will explain to you the key principles that form a lifestyle based on Ayurveda and will teach you the benefits of Ayurvedic cooking. For example, you will learn that Ayurvedic cooking will give you a better sense of well being, allow for better mood control, increased energy levels, feeling more comfortable with yourself and generally feeling more calm and relaxed.
Participating in an Ayurvedic cooking class
After Mario has finished teaching you about the benefits of Ayurvedic cooking, Maria will teach you exactly how you cook in an Ayurvedic style. Today, all healthy establishments that promote pan frying, roasting, steaming etc. rather than deep frying are taking ideas from Ayurveda, which had these methods of cooking entrenched in its practice for centuries. Maria will teach you in detail about Ayurvedic cooking practices whilst you cook food with her.
She will explain to you that Ayurveda states that you should be calm, happy and positive when cooking and you should use spices to help balance food. Most importantly, she will share with you that Ayurveda believes that you should combine all six of the following tastes in your meal: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent to make a balanced diet.
The Ayurvedic cooking classes by Mario and Maria are offered on a regular basis and the price is approximately 85 EUR (100 USD) per person and includes learning about Ayurveda, cooking non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes and of course, eating this delicious food that you have made with your group. The classes are usually held on the weekend and pre-booking is required (see below for more details).
Experiencing an Ayurvedic brunch
If you’re strapped for time and well, not ready to take on the Ayurveda kitchen experience just yet, perhaps Mario and Maria can tempt you with at least trying their vegetarian food that has been cooked in an Ayurvedic style during their regular brunches?
If you have reservations of trying a vegetarian only brunch, then perhaps the words of Albert Einstein might get you thinking as he once said, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind”. Promoting this view and Ayurveda, Mario and Maria offer popular Ayurvedic brunches where you can sample an abundance of tasty dishes with an array of flavours.
The brunch is in a beautifully laid out buffet style where you can enjoy moong dal, sabzi bhaji, matar paneer and so many other dishes. One point that you should note is that Ayurveda recognises that with the change of seasons and times of day, the food that we eat should equally change and you will find that if you enjoy the vegetarian brunch on one Sunday, it will be very different on another Sunday, so expect a positive surprise.
Learning about Ayurveda whilst visiting the brunch options
Next to every item in the Ayurvedic vegetarian brunch is a label which states what the item is and its benefits. As you can see from the photograph, one of the items included in the brunch is “ghee”. Ghee is made from boiling off the milk solids from unsalted butter and is a liquid substance that is used to accompany dishes. Ghee is very important in Ayurveda as it is believed that it has the healing benefits of butter without the impurities (saturated fat and milk).
There are a number of benefits of cooking with ghee or adding ghee to your already cooked items. For example, ghee increases your digestion, enhances the absorption of nutrients, lubricates the body externally and internally, promotes the elimination of toxins stored in the body and nourishes the brain and nervous system. In addition, ghee also supports mood and energy levels and is therefore all about connecting your body and soul.
Maria and Mario highlight the benefits of each item in their brunch with the labels but also check on each guest, answer any questions that they have and provide further information on any of the items requested.
Enjoying Ayurvedic dishes in a silver thali
As Ayurveda is about creating a perfect balance within you, you need to ensure that you eat different items, so Mario and Maria provide guests with thalis (silver compartmental plates) to use during the vegetarian brunch. As I have explained above, Ayurveda suggests that you consume food that has six primary tastes, so using a thali to put your food on is perfect, as you get to ensure that you enjoy different tastes from the brunch and that the flavours do not combine together. You can have your vegetables, dal, rice, paratha, sambar, chutney, etc. in different sections.
If you’re on holiday in Austria and are visiting this wonderful establishment, you might find that you’re getting a double-holiday in that you’re experiencing India too. The vegetarian brunch offered is in a buffet-style and you will be offered an “unlimited thali” meaning that you can refill it with the gorgeous food available as many times as you want. This is very true to Indian tradition too in that Indians want to feed you and make you feel at home!
Ayurveda is about connecting mind, body, soul and people
The popular Ayurveda vegetarian brunches are offered inside Pizzeria Vesuvio da Maria, which has been in operation for 30 years, and has a really heart-warming feel to it. It has an indoor and outdoor seating area and can fit a maximum of 150 people. I real liked the little touches, like the vines and flowers, as it made it feel like a positive and uplifting environment whilst having a really homely feel to it. I’m confident that your body and soul will feel at home there (and may not even want to leave because of how good the food tastes!).
The cost for an adult to enjoy the Ayurvedic brunch is 19.90 EUR (24 USD), for students it is 14.90 EUR (18 USD) and for children between the ages of 6–14, it is only 9.90 EUR (12 USD). This includes the opportunity to learn a bit about Ayurveda, enjoy some delicious food in a quaint and homely environment for as long as your heart desires. Whilst you have to pay for your drinks, the mango lasi and masala chai are complimentary (and highly recommended)!.
Meet the Saini’s and have a memorable Ayurvedic experience!
I would recommend the Ayurvedic cooking classes and the Ayurvedic vegetarian brunch offered by Mario, Maria and their children including Dr. Susheel Saini at Pizzeria Vesuvio da Mario. The experience is informative, unusual, a brilliant learning adventure and most importantly, you get hearty well-prepared food to enjoy in abundance. If you’re interested in the Ayurvedic cooking classes or brunch, please email [email protected] and [email protected] to make enquiries of the next available dates. Please note that the vegetarian brunches are organised for 27 August 2017 and 24 September 2017.
If you’re a tourist, it’s a great way to interact with locals who enjoy attending the classes and brunches at this wonderful family-run establishment that has been in operation for many years. As per Ayurveda, food plays a pivotal role in health and longevity, so if I were you, I would be contacting Mario, Maria and Susheel and reserving a spot for either the cooking classes or the brunch.
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