This dish is nothing more than what American’s would refer to as hash browns, and, like in the States, it is usually served as a side dish, mostly at breakfast but at lunch and dinner as well. It was traditionally eaten by farmers as breakfast on its own. The potatoes are cut, pan-fried in oil or butter, and formed into patties or simply the shape of the pan. Cheese, onions, or meat is sometimes added to spruce it up. Look for it on most menus, especially in the German-speaking parts of Switzerland.
Swiss cheese, duh! According to Cheese from Switzerland, over half the milk produced in the country is made into approximately 450 varieties of cheese. And when you visit the regions outside of Zurich, you’ll see that dairy farming absolutely dominates this part of the country. Be sure to try a wide variety of hard, semi-hard, and soft, but if you’re looking for Swiss cheese with holes in it like you find in America, get your hands on some Emmentaler AOP. Where do the holes come from? They are the result of bacteria fermenting lactic acid and producing carbon dioxide – whatever that means.
Whether it is in bar form, ice cream, or a hot drink, the chocolate you consume in Switzerland will most certainly inspire you to throw out all your Hersey bars. The regulation of its production is such that while the ingredients can come from outside of the country, it must be produced in-house in order to be labeled as Swiss. There are many “designer” brands of chocolate and truffles to be tried, such as Sprüngli, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money for high quality. Our advice is to find a Migros supermarket and browse the chocolate aisle. One popular brand is Lindt, and it’ll cost you under $10.
The culinary culture of nearby Bavaria carries over into the northwest of Switzerland, as there are many varieties of bratwurst found in the country. You can find them readily available on almost any menu, especially at bars and at traditional restaurants. One popular variety in the greater Zurich area is the Olma Bratwurst, which we will talk about further in a post next week when we profile its town of origin, St. Gallen.
[Photos: Will McGough/Will McGough/Wiki/Swiss Tourism]