Typical food in Switzerland

Intro

Culinary Switzerland is a gourmet’s paradise to be explored afresh wherever you go as the menu in addition to a modest number of national dishes mainly features regional specialities.

Swiss cuisine combines influences from the German, French and North Italian cuisine. However, it varies greatly from region to region with the language divisions constituting a rough boundary outline. Mind you, many dishes have crossed the local borders and become firm favourites throughout Switzerland. These dishes include, among others:

Cheese fondue

Melted cheese with bread cubes. The bread cubes are picked up on the fork and swivelled in the melted cheese, which is served in a traditional ceramic fondue pot called ‘caquelon’.

Raclette

Melted cheese served with “Gschwellti” (jacket potatoes), cocktail gherkins and onions as well as pickled fruit.

Älplermagronen

A kind of gratin with potatoes, macaroni, cheese, cream and onions. And most importantly, stewed apple on the side.

Rösti

A flat, hot cake made of grated, cooked jacket or raw potatoes and fried in hot butter or fat. The dish is bound by nothing apart from the starch contained in the potatoes.

Birchermüesli

Developed around about 1900 by the Swiss doctor Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Brenner, it contains oat flakes, lemon juice, condensed milk, grated apples, hazelnuts or almonds.

Swiss chocolate

Chocolate came to Europe in the course of the 16th century, by the 17th century at the very latest it became known and was produced in Switzerland as well. In the second half of the 19th century Swiss chocolate started to gain a reputation abroad. The invention of milk chocolate by Daniel Peter as well as the development of conching (fondant chocolate) by Rodolphe Lindt were closely connected with the rise of Swiss chocolate’s renown. But Switzerland not only exported chocolate, its chocolatiers went abroad as well and their names remain well-known to this day: the Josty brothers, who opened their famous chocolate shop in Berlin or Salomon Wolf and Tobias Béranger who ran the famous Café Chinois in St. Petersburg. The Cloetta brothers opened chocolate factories in Scandinavia while Karl Fazer established the first confectionary shop in Helsinki; later this developed into the Cloetta-Fazer brand. Even Belgian chocolate has Swiss roots: Jean Neuhaus opened a confectionary shop in Brussels and his son Frédéric in 1912 invented the praline chocolate. To find out more about Swiss chocolate visit Verbands Schweizerischer Schokoladefabrikanten.

Swiss cheese

One could quite easily explore Switzerland travelling from cheese dairy to cheese dairy. Each area of the country, each region has its own types of cheese – the diversity of products created from one single base ingredient – good Swiss milk – is quite astonishing! Such as, for example, the soft and melting Vacherin cheese. The aromatic Appenzeller. The full-flavoured Sbrinz. The Emmentaler, famous for its big holes. The world-famous Gruyère. Or the Tête de Moine which is shaved into decorative rosettes. All of these – and their round about 450 other cheese siblings – make a fondue, a raclette, an «afternoon snack platter» a culinary experience. By the way, the stalls of farmers and cheese merchants at the weekly markets are a true treasure trove. Many of the cheeses sold there come straight from the Alpine pastures and are cut from the wheel. The many demonstration cheese dairies and Alpine cheese cellars are also well worth a visit.

Specialities from different regions

Romandie (French-speaking Switzerland)

Saucissons, raw pork sausages to cook at home, are popular throughout French-speaking Switzerland. These are served either poached or cooked on vegetables (Papé Vaudois). Cheese fondueraclette and Croute au fromage – a Swiss version of cheese on toast (Valais) also come from the French-speaking part of Switzerland and these days are well known throughout Switzerland. Then there is a kind of vegetable tart called Cholera – which hails from the Valais. Apparently it owes its name to the fact that it was created as a result of the hardship during a cholera epidemic. Fish dishes are popular around lakes Geneva, Neuchâtel and Biel with powan, perch and trout being the most commonly served. On the shores of Lake Biel in particular, saucissons containing spent grain and cooked in distilling kettles feature on the menu. Dessert Gâteau du Vully (cream tart) and Moutarde de Bénichon (very sweet mustard) are popular specialities which, like the Cuchaule AOP (typical saffron bread), both originate from the canton of Fribourg as does the. The Bénichon Fete which takes place in autumn offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy the specialities of this region.

Appenzellerland

The Appenzeller „Biberli“ is a gingerbread which is pressed into a wooden mould to make it look like a picture. Other specialities the Appenzell is famous for include: Appenzeller cheese, the Appenzeller cheese tart and the Appenzeller scalded sausages. In terms of drinks, the Appenzeller Alpenbitter is famous throughout Switzerland.

St. Gallen

The OLMA bratwurst comes from St. Gallen and gets its name from the Swiss Agricultural and Food Fair St. Gall called OLMA. It is considered the nation’s favourite sausage for barbecuing or frying. True connoisseurs know that this sausage is best eaten without mustard because this allows the full aroma of the meat to unfold. In fact, people from Eastern Switzerland generally consider it an insult if the sausage is eaten with mustard. Bratwurst connoisseurs recommend picking the sausage up in the hand to eat it rather than using a knife and fork. All you need with it is some bread, ideally a traditional “Bürli” roll. The barbecue sausage is not only available during the OLMA fair but is omnipresent at other times and in other places too, such as at fairs, barbecue parties and sausage stalls. But the bratwurst takes on yet another guise when it is fried with rösti in a pan to create the highly traditional bratwurst with onion sauce dish. Experts estimate that an unbelievable 45 million bratwursts are devoured in Switzerland per year. That equals an impressive 6.5 sausages per head per year. The St. Galler Schüblig, another sausage, is also popular.