A combination of the three principal cultures in the country, Swiss cuisine draws heavily on influences from their French, Italian and German neighbours. In the French speaking part of Switzerland you will encounter dishes such as ‘assiette valiaisanne’, a combination of dried beef, gherkins, sausages, cheese, ham and bacona and certainly not one for the vegetarians among you. Other favourites is ‘papet vaudois’ which is smoked sausage served on a bed of leeks and potatoes and ‘fricassée de porc’, marinated pork served with gravy. And of course there are dishes like ‘fondue’ and ‘raclette’ which have made their way on to the menu in restaurants around the world.
Moving along to the German-speaking region, the food takes its influence from the climatic and geographic conditions of the area. Soups feature highly on their list of priorities with ‘basler mehlsuppe’ being one of the preferred specialities. The many lakes mean that fish is also popular and so too is game. The country’s national dish, ‘geschnetzeltes kalbfleish’, originated in this region too and consists of diced veal which is served in a cream sauce. Other dishes favoured by visitors and locals alike are ‘rosti’, fried potatoes served with onion, ‘spatzli’ which are a type of German noodle and ‘ratsherrentopf’ which is a meat and potato stew guaranteed to satisfy even the hungriest of you after a day on the slopes.
And the good news for the 'sweet tooths' among you is that the Swiss Germans have also a few pretty special deserts. Among those which come highly recommended are ‘kirschtorte’ which is a cake flavoured with cherry brandy, ‘rueblitorte’, quite possibly the best carrot cake you will ever taste, and ‘birnbrot’ which is a type of pear bread.
Finally, let’s have a look at what the Italian contingent have come up with in the kitchen. Well, as it happens they really haven’t varied too much from any authentic Italian restaurant. Pizza and pasta dishes still dominate every menu but you will come across a couple of new additions including ‘polenta grass’, a dish consisting of corn meal and cream and ‘fritto misto’, again not one for any non-meat lovers as this is a type of mixed grill consisting of at least three different types of meat.
Finally to wash it all down ensure that you sample some of the wonderful variety of Swiss wines which are available throughout the country. Or for those of you who fancy something a little stronger, check out some of the fruit spirits. Kirsch, Marc and Williams all come highly recommended as does the local beer.