Exotic Eats: Switzerland

Posted by on Oct 3, 2013 in Exotic Eats, Switzerland | 1 comment

I don’t know how lactose intolerant people live in Switzerland because chocolate and cheese always seems to be on the menu.  I thoroughly enjoyed sampling both during our two and a half week trip through Switzerland.  
There is a reason that Switzerland has the highest per capita rate chocolate consumption in the world; it is simply divine.  While there are too many brands to list (Cailler, Toblerone, Lindt to name a few), I made it a point to sample as much as I could! (Tough job).  I was also happy to learn that, despite how expensive Switzerland is overall, it is possible, even easy, to purchase delicious chocolate for cheap.  The local grocery stores – Coop and Migros – sell their own brands of chocolate that cost the Swiss Franc equivalent of 50 cents.  Even this inexpensive treat was better than anything I could buy at home.
Chocolate aisle at Swiss supermarket

Chocolate aisle at Swiss supermarket

Due to the historic farming lifestyle of Swiss people and, in part, to their many cows, food in Switzerland is often simple, hearty, and extremely cheesy.  Lucky for me, I love cheese. 
Most people are familiar with fondue, one of the major cheese based dishes in Switzerland.  Fondue involves melting cheese (often gruyere), wine, and garlic in a big pot.  People then place pieces of bread on long forks and dip the bread in the melted cheese mixture.  I am glad that this dish has fully made its way over to the states as there are typically fondue restaurants in any major city.  However, I do not think that I could eat the dish regularly.  Maybe it is just because I have no self control when it comes to carbs and cheese, but I felt so unbelievably full after eating heaps of this combination that I cannot imagine eating this often. The traditional dish that I did really enjoy (and was a bit less familiar with) was raclette.
Raclette is the name of both a traditional dish in Switzerland and a semi-firm cow’s cheese. Historically, a 6 kg (13 lb) raclette cheese round is melted in front of an open fire.  The melting side is regularly scraped off onto bread or accompanied by small potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions, and dried meat.  In modern times, raclette is still a staple but is cooked atop an electric table top grill in small pans.  We were fortunate to experience an authentic raclette meal when we stayed with Jenna and Florim, a couple that we met through Air Bnb.  I found the meal to be delicious but also a lot of fun – it is an activity and a social experience.  Raclette meals often last hours as the Swiss emphasize a relaxed and social vibe.  White wine or tea is consumed along with the meal.  (Interestingly, it is believed by locals that drinking water will cause the cheese to harden in the stomach and hinder digestion).

One Comment

  1. I love cheese! Every kind, every form, every day! Yum.

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