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Food and Drink

Switzerland - Food and Drink

Swiss food is a delicious mix of German, French and Italian influences. It is hard to pin point typical Swiss cuisine, but there are a few signature dishes that the country is very proud of. Swiss food is very healthy, rich in vegetables and meat. Also, it is home to the worldwide known Müesli, a typical breakfast dish, developed in Switzerland by doctor Maximilian Bircher-Benner and served initially as a nutritious recovery meal to patients in the hospital he worked in.

The typical day starts with breakfast (Zmorge), which is consumed at home, before work or school and usually takes place around 07:00 – 07:30. The main meal is eaten at noon. This is when work places and schools have a break for lunch (Zmittag) and it usually lasts for about two hours. The main meal’s purpose is to fill up energy levels, so it often consists of a rich soup, a potato and meat dish with the addition of vegetables. Cheese and fruit are occasionally served as desserts. Adults drink wine, cider or water and children will have water or juice. Znüni and Zvieri are snacks between the meals and they reflect the healthy eating habits of Swiss people who don’t overeat but eat frequently. Znüni means “at nine” and Zvieri “at four”. A snack is usually a piece of fruit or a slice of bread, served with coffee or afternoon tea. In the evening, on a usual day, there is dinner and it’s the lightest meal of the day. It can consist of baked vegetables or sausages or muesli with milk. Cheese and wine is a popular choice for sharing with friends. Fondue and Raclettes can be served so everyone will enjoy the same dish.

Fondue is the most well-known Swiss dish and you can find it almost everywhere. A traditional fondue is served with a bowl of melted gruyere and vacherin cheese with wine and garlic, paired with crumbled bread to dip in, using a long stick. Fondue is usually accompanied with white wine, schnapps (strong, fruit infused liquor) or tea. One good thing to know and remember, is that Swiss people don’t do chocolate fondues. Even though chocolate is, next to cheese, a national specialty, using it for fondue is considered a faux-pas.

Raclette is the name a typical cheese dish in the Valais region. The dish consists of melted Raclette cheese and additives, such as pickles, meat or ham. It is also enjoyed in a group setting.

Another example of a typical Swiss dish is rösti. These are thinly grated potatoes, baked in a ceramic pot. Depending on the region, it can be served just as it is or with added ingredients such as onion, bacon or eggs. It used to be served as breakfast, however, now it is served more often at dinner. It can be eaten with other national dishes, such as a typical Zürich-style ragout - Zürcher Geschnetzeltes. This one is made with thin strips of veal and mushroom, cooked with a creamy sauce. Älplermagronen is also very interesting, consisting of pasta, cheese, potatoes and apples. This unique dish comes straight from the Swiss Alps. For the dessert, you can choose from a variety of tarts and cakes, such as Bűndnernusstorte, a caramel and nut filled pastry characteristic of the Grisons region.

To drink, Switzerland offers a vast array of wines and other liquors. White wines are the most popular, but you can also find nice red wines and rosés. Unlike in France, they are considered best when they are new. Although they are not well-known, Swiss beers are also very good. You can try them in the afternoon or at a meeting in a pub as they are usually not served with dinner. Beer is popular mostly in the German-speaking parts of the country. Liquors are very popular and they are made with local fruit. The best are: Kirsch – made with cherry pits, Pflümli - made with plums, Williamine- made with Williams pears and Träsch – made with cider pears.

Meals in Switzerland are meant to be social events, so they are eaten together with family or friends and at the table. Children are taught to set the table before the meal and it’s popular to have a chat or a meeting over a meal. Going out to eat is popular and there are quite a variety of different types of restaurants to choose from. Fast foods are just as popular as high class restaurants. A good idea is to enjoy a restaurant meal at lunch time, when the set of three meals will be offered at a special price - (Tagesmenu, Tagesteller; plat/assiette du jour; piatto del giorno). It is also popular to dine at home and throw dinner parties. As a gift you can bring flowers or chocolates, as wine is usually chosen by the host.

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