Food Culture and Tradition

Food, People and Culture Resources

Swiss Domestic Life and Foods Commonly Used


The Swiss reputation for hard work, orderliness, and simplicity is evidenced in the home. Swiss home-makers are “scrubbers”: every corner is scrupulously clean and ordered. Swiss kitchens vie with any in the western world for efficiency, appliances and convenience, but gadgets are used only if they are truly timesaving. Shoddy materials and poor quality are as little tolerated in the kitchen as they are in industry.

Although the true origin of Swiss fondues is lost in antiquity the fondue remains a favored meal and a form of entertainment. Most Swiss homes have the necessary accoutrements: the caquelon, a shallow but sturdy earthenware casserole for heating the cheese fondue, a supply of long-handled forks for dipping, and a practical stand and heat source usually for alcohol heating. For fondue friture (clunking foods in hot oil), the Swiss home will be equipped with a deep heavy metal pot, wider at the base than at the top to prevent tipping and possible spattering while frying. For the newly introduced chocolate fondue (introduced in New York by Beverley Allen for the Swiss Chalet Restaurants), a small candle-heated earthenware pot is used.

Finally for the delightful Swiss supper of raclette, an efficient gadget that not only keeps plates warm but also holds a big wedge of cheese firmly in place for melting is also a part of the culinary equipment. Mountain cheeses such as Gomser, Raclette, Belalp, or Bagnes are best for melting.

The Swiss standard of living is very high and this is reflected in the many specialty shops for bakery and pastries, meats and fancy delicatessen. Preparation of foods, packaging and displays reach such a high standard that they can seldom be duplicated elsewhere. Huge varieties of imported goods of every type await the shopper and convenience foods abound. Even raw meats in butcher shops are displayed with artistry, garnished with sprigs of greens and trimmed and shaped so that the homemaker need only cook them. In addition, a growing variety of prepared foods awaits the harried homemaker. The long tradition of daily shopping to ensure the freshest produce and baked goods is slowly declining as more and more women join the workforce. Even the sale of deep freezers is increasing.

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