Food Culture and Tradition

Food, People and Culture Resources

Swiss Food Glossary and Food Terms


Aromat: trade name for monosodium glutamate.

Berner Platte: a massive platter of green beans, boiled potatoes, and sauerkraut artfully topped with smoked and salted pork, boiled tongue, and several types of spicy sausages. Served with side dishes of mustard sauces.

Bindenfleisch: meat that is cured then dried in clear mountain air, retaining a fine flavor and bright color. Served very thinly sliced together with wholegrain bread and red wine. A specialty of the Grisons area.

Cholermus Pancakes: typical of a “sweet” country supper, huge pancakes reputedly first made by the herdsmen who then tore them with forks and browned them in butter. Served with fruits and sugar and steaming mugs of Cafe au Lait, this is considered a satisfying supper.

Chriesitotsch: Zurich’s traditional baked cherry pudding.

Chriesitutschli: fresh bunches of cherries dipped in batter, deep-fried, and served with cinnamon sugar.

Fanz: a thick sauce of flour, butter, and milk eaten with bread and Milchkaffee to make a light supper. Typical of the many soup and gruel-like mixtures that were early staple foods for the Swiss. One of the oldest traditional herdsmen’s dishes.

Fondor: trade name for monosodium glutamate.

Gonterser Bock: a light supper meal of hard-cooked eggs or cored apples that are batter-dipped and fried then sliced and eaten with fruit compote.

Kabisuppe: a soup made of shredded browned cabbage, beef broth, and rice all well cooked together.

Kartoffelkuchen: a baked potato pudding from Grisons made from boiled rice potatoes that are packed into a baking dish. A mixture of eggs, cream, and grated cheese is poured over and the whole casserole is baked in the oven.

Kartoffelplatzli: another Grisons dish made from a soft dough of potatoes, flour, cheese, and eggs. The dough is shaped into a long roll then sliced and browned in butter.

Kasuppe: cheese soup, a favorite in every area of Switzerland. Countless variations.

Lattich and Speck: minced onions and tomatoes sautéed with small heads of Romaine lettuce and crisply fried bacon. This dish makes a complete meal when served with Rosti and fresh fruit.

Maggi: a trade name representing many manufactured food products but especially noted for a liquid seasoning of flavor extracts made from blended grains. Looks and tastes like soy sauce.

Maluns: another famed potato dish from the Grisons area. Cold, finely grated potatoes are stirred in quantities of sizzling butter until they form tiny crisp balls. A dish of Maluns, a dried fruit compote, and endless cups of Cafe au Lait of fresh milk make a meal.

Metzgette: pig-slaughtering day in rural areas. Accompanied by much food and drink with only the pig’s squeal being allowed to escape the endless smoking, curing, salting, sausage-making, and fresh meat-cutting.

Milchkaffee: a satisfying blend of hot milk and hot coffee.

Muesli or Musli: the Swiss breakfast cereal, made of toasted uncooked oats, grated apples, and nuts. The mixture is usually refrigerated overnight with cold milk and eaten in the morning with a topping of fruit, wheat germ, brown sugar, or any desired combination.

Omeletten: pancakes of any type. German-speaking areas in Switzerland often make a supper of a fruit tart, a rice and milk pudding, or pancakes and fruit all served with the usual Milchkaffee. It is these light sweet suppers that often cause dissension between the Swiss homemakers and the workers from other countries: they are not satisfied with such a light evening meal!

Paiuolo: Ticino follows many of the food patterns of northern Italy, and the making of polenta (corn-meal) is one of them. The Paiuolo is the big tinned copper kettle used to cook the polenta over an open hearth. It is stirred with a special wood paddle.

Pfnutli or Fnutli: Basel apple fritters.

Potato Gnocchi: mashed cooked potatoes blended with flour to form a dough which is then shaped into little fingers. After drying for about thirty minutes, the little shapes are poached in salted water and served with a buttery tomato sauce. As popular in Ticino as they are in Italy.

Raclette: derived from the French verb racier, which means “to scrape off,” refers to a supper plate of melted cheese (Gomser, Belalp, Raclette, or Bagnes) served with a boiled potato, pickled gherkins, and onions. As many plates are eaten as desired.

Rettich Salat: a salad of coarsely grated white radishes blended with a dressing of oil, vinegar, and mayonnaise and flavored with Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.

Rosti: the national potato pancake. This dish appears so frequently in homes and restaurants that it is unlikely that many days go by without the Swiss enjoying their Rosti together with Lattich und Speck, Leberspiessli (skewered liver and bacon) or any number of other dishes. Rosti is made from long shreds of boiled potatoes packed into a pan sizzling with butter. After browning one side, the huge pancake is flipped (a plate placed on top and then inverting the whole is the easiest method) to crisp the second side. Served whole to the table, wedges are cut to serve.

Saure Pflumli: traditional sweet and sour purple plum relish served with meats, game, and cold cuts.

Schwartztee: Indian tea.

Schweinspfeffer: jugged pork.

Stierenaugen: though eggs are seldom served alone, if they are then it is in the form of “bull’s eyes” – the name of this dish is for simple fried eggs.

Wiworm: a New Year’s drink of diluted spiced wine served hot.

Zuchertopf: a Zurich dish of meat and rice.

Zuger Kirschtorte: cherry tart, another Zurich specialty.

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