What I love about Switzerland – Raclette

Posted on April 5, 2010

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Switzerland is a country riddled with clichés and the area of food is no exception.  When asked about Swiss specialities, the average traveller will inevitably mention the fondue, but a less famous and, in my opinion, more worthwhile Swiss dish is Raclette. Apart from being the name of the dish, the word ‘Raclette’ also refers to the cheese which is its main ingredient. Don’t be shocked by its initial pungent smell. Once melted (since this is the cheese’s fate) it provides a much more pleasant sensory experience.

To prepare Raclette, you will need a special appliance, a sort of double-level electric stove which you can set up on your table, known in German as a ‘raclette ofen’. This is to the Swiss what the rice machine is to Asians; a must-have in their households.  On the upper level of the stove, you grill small pieces of meat of your choice, for example bacon or sausage, while on the lower, you put small spatulas holding a thin slice of raclette cheese. When after a few minutes the cheese has melted, you scrape it off the spatula onto one or two boiled baby potatoes (skin still on), and add seasoning or special raclette condiments to the mix. The grilled meat is usually enjoyed separately.

Preparing and eating Raclette is a slow and social affair. Friends or family gather around the ‘raclette ofen’and consume several portions of melted raclette and potatoes. Just be warned that the smell will not only flood whatever room you find yourself in, but also stick to your hair and clothes. If you don’t have the opportunity to enjoy Raclette in a Swiss home, it is not difficult to find a traditional Swiss eatery which offers it. And if you feel disappointed that you’re eating it in a restaurant instead of in a lovely warm home, hold on to the comforting thought that at least, you won’t have the job of laboriously cleaning sticky cheese off of plates, forks and stoves.

– Text and Photography by Denise Pulis @ www.travelwithdenden.wordpress.com

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Posted in: Switzerland