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Switzerland TravelSwitzerland guide / Switzerland cuisine

Switzerland cuisine

Switzerland is a country that not only has its own specialties, but also draws from the best of the countries bordering it: Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria, Italy, and France
Switzerland is a country that not only has its own specialties, but also draws from the best of the countries bordering it: Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria, Italy, and France. Italian food in particular is enjoyed throughout Switzerland, even though the Italian speaking part of the country is small in size. Switzerland has a history of producing wine for the royalty in Liechtenstein. Roman commanders were responsible for planting the first vineyards on the Rhine upon their arrival in the area. The slopes in the Rhine valley are perfectly suited for such grape varieties as Muller-Thurgaua, and Blauburgunder (used for pinot noir).

The Swiss canton of Schaffhausen in northern Switzerland has gentle slopes that are used for growing grapes and grains. Thurgau and Blauburgunder grapes make up 75% of all vineyards. Fish, like Rheinasche fish, is a local delicacy in this part of Switzerland. It is baked and drizzled with butter. Onion pies and baked sausages are also favorites of this region. Friday and Saturday markets here showcase the region's fresh produce.

Before tucking in to your Swiss meal, be sure to raise a glass and wish your dining companions "bon appetit," "en Guete," "buon appetito," or "bien appetit." whether it's in Switzerland French, German, Italian, or Romansh, it means the same: "Enjoy."

Many Swiss favorites are variations on combinations of meat, cheese, and potatoes. Sauces are a high art in Switzerland, and are influenced by German tastes in the north, French tastes in western Switzerland and Italian in southern Switzerland. One of the most well-known sauce-based dishes is fondue, whether cheese (often Emmentaler, Gruyere, Vacherin, or Appenzeller) or chocolate. It is still a favorite meal for socializing with friends here, as are quiches and tarts. Zurigschnatzlets is a dish made from thin veal strips with mushrooms in cream sauce. It is commonly served with Rosti, which is a potato dish that is popular throughout Switzerland.

Wine is not the only popular beverage in Switzerland. Apple juice and the chocolate drink called Ovomalitine are big, too, as are locally produced schnapps and beer. Only about 1% of Swiss wines are exported, so if you visit Switzerland, be sure to try the Swiss wines. You might not be able to get them anywhere else.

While there is great diversity in Swiss cuisine, there are common qualities throughout, such as the pride in using top ingredients. The Swiss are particular about their food, regardless of its provenance. This means you'll find great food in Switzerland whether you're at a five-star hotel in Geneva or at a simple village pub. Another common theme in Swiss food is the use of freshwater fish. There are plenty of well-stocked lakes in Switzerland, and the local catch is commonly on the menu.

Specialty sausages like Bratwurst, Saucisson, Emmentalerli, and Schublig are famous Swiss gastronomical treasures. Salamis of different varieties are produced by the different regions and are often served as snacks or appetizers. A light meal with sausage and cheese is called Wurstsalat, and you should definitely try it while you're in Switzerland.

During the right season, local mushrooms features heavily in many Swiss dishes such as risotto ai funghi and mushroom croutes. Savory pies filled with meat, cheese, bacon, vegetables, or potatoes are common main dishes. One western Swiss dish that is a favorite is called Raclette. It is made by melting Bagnes, Gomser, Belalp, or another mountain cheese then serving it with pickles and potatoes. In Swiss homes, people melt cheese slices in an electric table-top cheese melter. Pretty much every Swiss city has at least one restaurant that specializes in cheese dishes. Croute au Fromage and Kaseschnitten are two versions of cheese on toast. Ramequins or Chas-Chuechli are cheese tartlets and Malakoffs are cheese fritters.

You musn't forget about dessert while you're in Switzerland, and indeed it would be hard to do in a country known for its top quality chocolate. Also, fresh fruit is a big part of the dessert menu, often in fruit tarts served with whipped cream. Swiss pastries have a wide reputation for their deliciousness, and they go great with afternoon coffee or tea, whether you're on a city sidewalk or on a remote mountain somewhere.

As for chocolate, it has a place in just about every culinary situation. While you can enjoy a fine Swiss breakfast of Muesli or a potato dish called Rosti, you could always start off your day with a chocolate croissant. At lunch you can have chocolate tarts, and at dinner molded chocolate. For snacking purposes there is the delicious triangular Toblerone chocolate. It might be a good idea to climb a mountain every day to use up some of those calories from the amazing Swiss chocolate.

Crusty breads are another Swiss temptation that is hard to resist. They often have an imprint typical of their region. Braided eggbread, fruit preserves and jams make great breakfasts or snacks. But don't worry: there are plenty of healthy foods here, too. Fresh fruits and vegetables are used widely, and fresh salads show up on all the menus.

Switzerland is a compact country, but it is very dense with culinary traditions, both its own, and those of surrounding countries.

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