Onion cake Bölletünne
Bünderfleisch Fisch auf Brättl
F or most tourists Switzerland evokes images of mountains, skiing, watches and picturesque villages in the foothills. But what about the local culinary specialities? What are the most popular foods in Switzerland? What will the Swiss offer you in expensive luxury restaurants, in ordinary pubs and at home? Switzerland has always been a lot less rich in ingredients than, for example, France, but food-lovers from the whole world have always found its dishes worthwhile. Gastronomy developed separately in each canton and differences in eating habits between regions can still be seen today. However, it is necessary to take the country’s history into consideration – most people here lived as poor villagers in mountain areas, so they had to make do with the few ingredients that they could cultivate in the inhospitable conditions. Soup is the Basis This is true in Switzerland, where very popular and typical soups are the Fribourg Alphüttensuppe (based on milk and vegetables), Ticino Busecca (tripe) and Bern Märitsuppe based on potatoes and peas. Typical Dishes Each area has its own typical dish. For example, Ticino is an area by the border with Italy and so it is no wonder that what is popular here is risotto with onions, mushrooms and cheese served with corn mash and cream. In Aargau the local speciality is veal cutlets with a plum sauce served with round cakes. In Schaffhausen it is the Bölletünne onion pie. Food that is almost French, based on a lot of fish and vegetables, is served on the sightseeing boats that cruise Lake Geneva. In Appenzell the local speciality is the fattiest of all Swiss cheeses, the production of which dates back over eight centuries. One popular speciality is Rösti (as known as Ofetori or Züri Gschnätzlets) – a food similar to Czech potato pancakes, but a little less fatty. Baked jacket potatoes are sliced into small strips, mixed together with finely chopped onions and bacon, and made into cakes, fried on each side for ten minutes until golden. In the end cheese is melted onto the Rösti. Meat Preparing meat in Switzerland is linked to previous requirements regarding its long-term storage, so you often encounter dried meat. Most frequently you encounter dried beef prepared as Bünderfleisch – the meat is first marinated in a salty infusion and then coated with a mixture of herbs. A meat that is a popular especially in Zurich is Geschnetzeltes Kalbfleisch, i.e. sliced veal in a cream sauce. Fish on a plate are not an everyday occurrence in Switzerland (except the area around Lake Geneva), but they certainly aren’t something unusual. You can enjoy pike, trout, graylings, perch and brook trout. Smoked Meats Not many people know that over forty great original recipes for smoked meat have come out of Switzerland. We could name, for example, Cervelatsalat sausage salad or Schüblig pork sausage. If you like meat, you would love a Bern or Valais feast. A Bern feast contains a lot of different sausages, tongue and ribs, whereas a Valais feast has juicy smoked meat, dried beef and bacon. Swiss Cheeses, What More Is There to Say? Swiss cuisine is simple, nutritious and, in the last century, very aromatic. The typical ingredients are potatoes and cow’s milk cheese. Probably the most famous Swiss cheese in Emmental, although gourmets opt for the semi-hard Appenzeller cheese. During production a whole number of herbs that grow on Alpine slopes are added to most cheeses. The word raclette sounds exotic, but nothing could be simpler. Slices of cheese are warmed on a special grill and served with cucumber, onions, white wine and jacket potatoes. Earlier the cheese was melted on a fire, but today probably every wine cellar has its raclette corner with a special open oven. Raclette is prepared on an electronic device with a teflon surface, the cheese gradually softens and is spread on potatoes with a special knife. This very simple recipe is surprisingly tasty and sought-after by gourmets from around the world. Fondue spread from Switzerland (actually from Savoy) to the whole world. A spice blend is heated in a special pot and pieces of bread, meat, vegetables and fruit are mixed in on long forks. At first the cheese was melted and the fondue was ready, but today there are a lot of different types that vary depending on the composition of the spice blend. Almost anything can be dipped in the pot. Smuggling Watches to America Led to the Birth of Swiss Chocolate. Swiss chocolate has been one of the most important trade items for several centuries. The story is that in 1824 Philippe Suchard smuggled a suitcase full of watches into the United States, sold them there and established a chocolate factory with the proceeds. Fifty years later it occurred to Daniel Peter to add condensed milk (which had been invented by Henri Nestlé) to chocolate, and this gave birth to the famous Swiss milk chocolate. The current delicious sweetness that Alpine cows’ milk gives it is exported to the world by several well-known producers, such as Suchard, Tobler (Toblerone chocolate in pyramid shape), Lindt and Sprüngli. Swiss Wine and Spirits Some people might think that Switzerland lies in the shadow of its neighbours - French, Italians and even Germans (we are thinking, for example, of the Würzburg area). But Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc, produced around Neuchâtel Late, are certainly worth tasting. Tessino canton gives us a great Merlot, but the majority of the local production capacity is taken up by white wine. The local favourites include Valais wines Ermitage and Petite Arvine. Schiller from Chur – a mixture of red and white grapes from the same vineyard, is another speciality. The Swiss also love spirits and distill almost everything they find under trees, typically plums for Pfümli and pears or sour cherries for Kirschwasser. Desserts The Zug area can offer the famous Zuger Kirschtorte sour cherry cake, but it is also worth trying Aargau’s Rüebli cake, made from carrots, corn flour and nuts. Typical gingerbread is available in Basel in fantastic colourful jars as a souvenir. Engadine nut tart is regarded as the king of Swiss desserts by many gourmets.●
Engadine Nut tart
MORE ABOUT FONDUE
Traditional fondue was one third emmenthal and two thirds gruyere, and it is made primarily in winter, when the body needs hearty food. Geneva fondue comprises emmenthal, white wine, white pepper, starch, vodka, nutmeg and garlic. Cheese fondue, in contrast to Geneva fondue, contains chilli peppers and a glass of vodka or a little brandy, instead of garlic and white pepper. Cheese fondue with nuts contains bacon, cheese, walnuts, starch, apricot brandy or another spirit and white wine. The basis of forest fondue is finely chopped mushrooms, butter, condensed milk, cheese, pepper and white wine. Flambé fondue is made of white wine, cheese, starch, cherry brandy, pepper, garlic and butter. Wine fondue uses a larger amount of white wine, meat stock, salt, ginger and almonds. Burgundy fondue contains cognac, beef strips, oil, salt, pepper, a piquant sauce and peppers. Mecklenburg fondue is based on white wine, ham, bacon, cheese, starch, plum brandy and marjoram.
Whether you are experts on Swiss specialities, or on the contrary you are not able to imagine how the mentioned dishes might look, find the typical Swiss dishes below: