Switzerland is well-known for its premium cheese and chocolate, yet when it comes to the Swiss gastronomy, one cannot say about this cuisine as about something whole, complete. Rather, it is a mix of German, Italian, and French cuisines, with some notes of the local peculiarities and preferences, indeed.
Considering how the Swiss state has developed during the centuries, it does not come as a surprise that the Swiss gastronomy is very diverse. Whereas citizens in one part of the country do have some traditional foods of theirs, the inhabitants of the other part of the country may even not have a clue about how to cook those dishes.
So, it is sure that nothing certain can be said about the history of the Swiss cuisine, except of that it has surely been influenced by the neighboring countries, such as Germany, France, and Italy. So let’s find out what types of dishes the Swiss people from each part of the country do eat.
The traditional Swiss gastronomy that is popular across the entire country
In the first place, let’s take a look at the dishes of the Swiss cuisine that are popular throughout the country. Right after it, we will have a look at the specialties of the country’s regions in this matter.
Emmentaler, the famous sort of cheese, derives from Switzerland
So, the first dish that comes to one’s mind when thinking about the Swiss gastronomy is Swiss cheese. However, you can undoubtedly explore the country by tasting dairy products in each part of the country, as the Swiss cheese is quite diverse across the country. However, there is an ingredient present in all types of the Swiss cheese – the amazing Swiss milk. The most famous sorts of the Swiss cheese include Tête de Moine, Emmentaler (the one with big holes), Sbrinz, Appenzeller, and Vacherin. If you want to buy a genuine Swiss cheese at a quite moderate price, it would be a nice idea to visit weekly markets.
Swiss chocolate is also a quite renowned product of this country. The story of this product began in the 16th century when the chocolate was brought to Europe for the first time. In the 17th century, this product was produced in Switzerland too, whereas its fame it received at the end of the 19th century. In particular, such technologies of chocolate production as conching (or fondant chocolate) or the recipe of milk chocolate – both invented by Swiss Rodolphe Lindt and Daniel Peter respectively – were the driving force of the Swiss chocolate industry.
Birchermüesli is, without any doubt, an extremely popular breakfast across the entire country and occupies a special place in the Swiss gastronomy. The dish was created back in the 1900s by Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Brenner, a Swiss doctor, and contains almonds, hazelnuts, grated apples, condensed milk, lemon juice, and oat flakes.
Rösti is another dish, which was cooked by the Swiss farmers centuries ago. Actually, it is a pie cooked of potatoes and cooked, grated jacket. It is prepared by frying it in fat or hot butter. The dish has its own specialty since nothing, except starch, holds the pie together.
Älplermagronen is especially popular in the German-speaking parts of the country. It looks similar to a gratin and contains stewed apple, onions, creams, cheese, macaroni, and potatoes.
Cheese fondue is a traditional Swiss food of the country’s French-speaking cantons
Cheese fondue is popular in each part of the country. Basically, that’s same as chocolate fondue but with cheese: melted cheese served along with pieces of bread. Those bread pieces, then, have to be picked up and placed in that cheese mass. Typically, the cheese fondue is served in a special ceramic pot for fondue, which is called “caquelon.”
What do the Swiss people eat in different cantons?
First of all, let’s pay attention to the central part of Switzerland. One has surely to say that the previously mentioned gratin-like dish called Älplermagronen derives exactly from the central cantons of Switzerland. Those regions are also a home to lots of various types of cheese dishes. Besides, stews with meat are also very popular in this region, namely the following ones: Stunggis (vegetable and pork stew) and Hafenchabis (pork or lamb stew as well as cabbage). Regarding the sorts of cheeses, Sbrinz – an extremely hard cheese (full fat) that is produced from raw milk – is an essential sort of cheese in this area that includes Zug, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Schwyz, Bern, and Lucerne. Frying cheese (semi hard and full fat) is a particular specialty of the Nidwalden and Obwalden regions, where it is produced almost exclusively.
French-speaking cantons of Switzerland, which are also called Romandie, fancy eating d Saucissons, or, in other words, pork sausages that the Swiss people cook at home. Typically, those sausages are served along with vegetables. The cheese fondue comes exactly from this part of the country. The Valais region of the country can also boast a dish with a quite unusual name – “Cholera.” This is basically a vegetable tart consisting of pastry, cheese, fruits, vegetables, and potatoes. The name points to the history of this dish: this tart was improvised by the Swiss people during the Cholera epidemic, when all the markers were actually disrupted. There are also fish dishes popular in this region, such as Biel and Neuchâtel.
If you will pay a visit to Bern, try the dish called Berner Platte, which is actually a plate with lots pieces of cooked meat, including pork knuckle, pork shoulder, smoked pork chops, smoked pork belly, smoked beef and pork tongue, pigs’ ears, and so on. In Basel, there are popular such dishes as a flour soup and Basler Leckreli (biscuits). Such sweet dishes like Offleten and Hüppen are very popular in Zurich. Apart from it, you should also taste Zürcher Geschnetzelte, a dish with lots of veal.
Traditional Swiss restaurants
Löwenzorn is one of the traditional Swiss restaurants located in the country’s capital
When talking about the Swiss gastronomy, one has to think about the traditional Swiss restaurants. In particular, the city of Basel can boast lots of such restaurants with a lo-o-ong history, namely: Sarfan Zunft (has existed since at least the 14th century), Löwenzorn, and Jägerstube. In Bern, it would be nice to visit such traditional Swiss restaurants like Kornhauskeller and Della Casa.
If you became that much interested in the Swiss gastronomy, you might consider it useful to make use of the following sources: