The Swiss food and drink you’d miss if you left Switzerland
When you move to a new country one of the perks is exploring the food and drink of your new home.
And while you may miss some of the things you left behind (Marmite...mmm), gradually you may find there are plenty of local dishes or food items that you love so much you wish you could take them with you when you move back home again.
The Local spoke to readers and contributors to find out what Swiss food and drink they’d most miss if they left the country. And the results are interesting. Though many would miss food seen as universally Swiss (such as fondue and Rösti), others chose items that are specific to a particular region – after all, Switzerland’s food is a reflection of the country’s interesting mix of languages, cultures and local customs.
Raclette. Photo: Switzerland Cheese Marketing
Top of the list, of course, is Swiss cheese. Sure, you can probably eat a fondue elsewhere, but will it be as authentic as sitting down to a moitié-moitié served in a proper caquelon in a Swiss mountain restaurant? We think not. Raclette and Alplermagronen, or alpine macaroni (a Swiss dish of macaroni and potatoes smothered in cheese and served with apple sauce) are other dishes our readers and contributors would sorely miss.
Almost as Swiss as cheese is the humble sausage. As American expat Chantal Panozzo has said, “when out and about in Switzerland, sometimes it’s sausage or starvation”.
For many in the alpine country the king of Swiss sausages is the Cervelat, a sort of fatter, shorter frankfurter that’s often cooked over an open fire in the great outdoors. Other popular sausages that would be much missed by readers include Bratwurst, veal sausages and the cabbage sausage particular to canton Vaud, saucisse aux choux vaudoise.
Photo: Valais Tourism
Speaking of meat, tucking into a platter of dried meat (with obligatory gherkins) accompanied by a glass of local wine is certainly something we’d miss here at The Local – and many readers agreed. Dried meat from the Valais and Bündnerfleisch – air-dried beef from the Graubünden – aren’t things you’d easily pick up far away from Switzerland.
When autumn comes around many restaurants serve la chasse/wildsaison (hunting season) menus. Wild boar, deer and other game meats are served with Spätzli or Knöpfli and sides including red cabbage, chestnuts and poached pears. Delicious -- and definitely something we'd miss!
Photo: Leon Brocard
It’s hard to go too long without a Rösti. But luckily you don’t have to – this delicious fried potato dish is readily available in restaurants across the country, and even the packet versions you can pick up in supermarkets aren’t bad.
“I've come to really enjoy Rösti (especially instant Rösti!),” says The Local contributor Claire Doble, “as well as standard Bergrestaurant fare like Cordon Bleu, kalbsbratwurst and those hamburgers you get everywhere. Can't imagine a walk in the mountains without them now!”
Universally beloved by foreigners in Switzerland is Ramseier fizzy apple juice. Available in every supermarket, corner shop and railway station kiosk, this ubiquitous drink would be sorely missed by many. Its alcoholic version is pretty good too.
Other drinks mentioned by readers include Rivella – a typically Swiss soft drink made, somewhat bizarrely, from milk – Appenzeller beer, Moût de Raison (grape must) and Abricotine, an apricot schnapps from the Valais.
A staple of any Swiss railway shop bakery are croissants stuffed with minced ham, a quick snack beloved by many foreigners – especially one reader’s children.
Of course, Swiss chocolate is exported all over the world, so you’re unlikely to be far from a shop selling Lindt or Toblerone (even if it isn’t always the right shape elsewhere). But not all Swiss chocolate is readily available abroad. Kägi, a chocolate wafer bar made in the Toggenburg region, was picked out by readers as something they would miss, as was Ragusa, the delicious praline-hazelnut-filled chocolate made in the Bernese Jura.
“For me it would be Sprungli chocolate without a doubt,” says The Local contributor Emily Mawson. “Their Grand Cru Chocolate with Hazelnuts in particular. I'd also miss Chocolat Stella's Coconut Nectar chocolate.”
Photo: Terroir Fribourg
One classic dish is beloved by many foreigners in Switzerland: meringues and la Gruyère cream. A speciality of the Gruyères region but enjoyed all over the country, this is a real treat. If you’ve never tried la Gruyère cream then you’re missing out. Thicker than double cream, it’s closer to the British clotted cream but not quite as heavy. Smooth and unctuous, it goes perfectly dolloped over sweet, crumbly meringues.
Other Swiss desserts that were namechecked by readers include vermicelles (‘noodles’ made from puréed chestnut) and tarte vaudoise, a buttery baked flan from the canton of Vaud.
Compared to the UK, Switzerland doesn’t offer a wide variety of crisp flavours. But there’s one thing that many foreigners embrace here that you can’t always get back home – paprika-flavoured crisps. To be specific, the Zweifel brand was mentioned as a particular favourite by readers.
Ok, it’s not a food item, but judging by the number of comments, the supermarket Migros is a food store that would be severely missed by many foreigners – particularly for its own-brand chocolate and other items that aren’t found elsewhere.
“The only thing I think I would really miss is Migros Farmer Croc pecan breakfast cereal,” says The Local contributor Morven McLean. “It is also a big hit with my family in Scotland and over the years I have taken many bags of it across in my luggage.”