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Expat butcher stages British sausage fest

An expat-run small business in the canton of Vaud has come up with a novel way to promote its products. Bangers, a butchery producing British-style sausages, is hoping expats and Swiss alike will follow their noses to the village of Gilly, near Rolle, for the first ever British Food Fair on October 4th.

Expat butcher stages British sausage fest
The company hopes to introduce the Swiss to British-style sausages. Photo: Bangers

Designed to be a celebration of British food, the festival will feature stalls selling classic English dishes such as bangers and mash, fish and chips, pies and bacon butties.

Visitors can scoff their British nosh while being entertained by live bands throughout the festival, which starts at midday and runs late into the evening.

Though initially devised by Vevey-based sausage shop Bangers as a way to raise awareness of their fledgling brand, the event will also showcase a number of other local businesses selling British products, including Mama India, Rock n Salt and Le Pie, as well as English beers.

Speaking to The Local, promoter Anne Bucher said: “We realised that if we had pies and fish and chips too, perhaps that would be better, so it became a British Food Fair.”

Ignoring the increasingly respected wineries in the south of  England, Bucher added: “The only thing not British or Anglophone will be the wine, as we are in Switzerland!”

Bangers, set up by three entrepreneurs including Englishman Jacob Most, creates British-style sausages, back bacon and pies using locally-sourced Swiss meat.

The sausage range includes popular British classics including Cumberland, Lincolnshire and Pork & Leek.

But at on average 25 francs a kilo, the prices are certainly more Swiss than British.  

Initially aimed at expats in the region, the festival will be staged in Gilly due to the village’s location midway between Geneva and Lausanne, home to French-speaking Switzerland's largest concentrations of expats.

However,  the team hope that the festival – and the products – will attract Swiss people in the future, too.

“Perhaps not for this first edition because the Swiss can be a bit cautious,” Bucher told The Local, “but it’s open to everyone. It’s not just a thing by expats for expats.”

But whether British-style sausages will attract Swiss customers remains to be seen.

British food “is not popular at all,” added Bucher, saying that the company aims to use that fact to their advantage.

“We are planning  do a humorous marketing campaign next year to play on the fact that people think British food is not good,” she said.

“But in fact these are some of the best products of the region.”  

The British Food Fair runs from 12pm to late on Saturday October 4th in Gilly.

For tickets and information, visit www.meatpointswitzerland.com

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FOOD & DRINK

You are not Swiss until you try these seven weird foods

Switzerland is not exactly known for innovative cuisine but for hearty and, some say, uninspiring food. But can some of the country’s dishes be qualified as ‘weird’?

You are not Swiss until you try these seven weird foods

Unlike its neighbours France and Italy, Switzerland’s culinary tradition is relatively plain.

After all, how many foreigners would actually say “I am going to Switzerland for the food”?

Still, don’t rule out some surprises on the culinary front. Whether you consider these dishes as ‘weird’ or just very unappetising depends mostly on how adventurous you are and how solid your stomach is.

So let’s begin.

The Berner Zungenwurst (Bernese tongue sausage)

Some of the wackiest foods have a regional flavour — literally and figuratively.

One of them is a traditional “tongue sausage” from Bern.

A cookbook from 1835 states that two or three pig tongues should be used as ingredients, along with meat and blood from pork and beef. What’s not to like?

These days, however, the tongue has been phased out, but the name remains. Contemporary cookbooks call for Zungenwurst to be made from pork and beef meat, along with crackling and spices. 

In 2019, Zugenwurst achieves EU protected status, which prevents imitators from reproducing the sausage, unless they do so under a different name.

If you can get over its appearance, you might actually enjoy it.

Photo: Photo: Tamorlan, CC BY-SA 2.5/.

READ MORE: Three things to know about Switzerland’s protected ‘blood tongue sausage’

Saucisse de choux

West of Bern, in Vaud, another sausage reigns: the so-called “cabbage sausage”.

No tongue or blood here; this traditional smoked sausage is made from white cabbage, pork and bacon, and eaten boiled with potatoes and leeks — another typical Vaud dish called “papet”.

According to legend, the origin of this sausage dates back to the year 879, when the family of the Emperor of Germany stayed in the Vaud town of Orbe for several weeks.

As the meat ran out, locals mixed cabbage with the sausage meat to fill the stuffing. The smoking stage appeared in the Middle Ages, when it was realised that by smoking the meat, it could be kept longer.

Cenovis

Unless you grew up eating Marmite in the UK or Vegemite in Australia, it may take you a whIle to develop your taste buds to accept, and actually like, Cenovis —  the dark brown paste made from yeast extract.

This very salty paste is spread on a slice of buttered bread.

READ MORE: Six common myths about Swiss food you need to stop believing

How did this idea originate in the first place?

According to the company website, “it was in the mind of a visionary brewer from the Rheinfelden region in the canton of Basel-Country that the idea of using the precious yeasts from the production of beer germinated”.

Spiny thistle

If you think this plant is unfit for human consumption, Genevans will disagree with you.

That’s because cardon épineux genevois is not only a local specialty, but it is also  the first vegetable to be included in the official Swiss registry of origin.

It can be eaten, for example, as a gratin — grilled with (Swiss) cheese on top — to accompany meat or fish.

First consumed around Europe in the 16th century where it was widely cultivated, these days canton of Geneva is the only place that still produces thorned thistle.

Genevans make a dish out of this plant. Photo by Pixabay

READ MORE: Ten varieties of cheese you should be able to identify if you live in Switzerland

Rivella

That Switzerland has its own beverage is not in itself unusual (and certainly not weird) — after all, it does have plenty of cheese and chocolate of its own.

What is slightly odd, however, is that this carbonated drink is made from milk whey.

Perhaps it is because Swiss cows produce too much milk and this surplus had to be used somehow — we don’t know. What we do know is that in 1950 two men, Roberth Barth and the biologist Hans Süsli, got together in Zurich and used a recipe initially conceived to produce a whey beer to create a soft drink that tastes a bit like a mixture of ginger ale and bubble tea.

As is the case with Cenovis, you probably have to train your taste buds (or trick them) to like it.

Chestnut paste tarts

To the untrained eye, these little tarts, called vemicelles, look like worms piled on top.

In fact, in Latin “vermiculi” actually means “worms”. But if you can get past the appearance and the name, these pastries are actually quite delicious.

And making them from scratch (rather than buying them ready made) is almost an art form: traditional recipe calls for about half a kilo of chestnuts.

An incision has to be made in each chestnut before boiling. Then, chestnuts should be shelled, simmered with milk and sugar before being pressed through a special machine to create the long “worms” of chestnut paste.

Photo by Robert Patti on Unsplash

Last but not least…cholera!

OK, what is actually weird about this dish is not its content  but the truly off-putting name.

There is a reason for that: this dish was invented during the cholera outbreak in the 1830s when people were scared to leave their homes and made a pie with whatever leftovers they had on hand: potatoes, onion, apples, bacon, leek and cheese.

As far as we know, this is the only food still in existence that was created out of necessity during a health crisis. To this day, there is no dish called Covid (although all of you budding chefs out there may see that as a challenge). 

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