Simple yet freshly prepared delicious food is an integral part of everyday life in Switzerland. Influenced somewhat by its neighboring countries, Switzerland's gastronomic heritage has a unique disposition that highlights locally sourced food in the most delightful of ways. A few ingredients such as cheese and chocolate have given the country worldwide fame in culinary circles, but it's in the rich flavors and subtle preparations of Swiss food that one truly appreciates the joy of eating. Available across the country as well as region-specific, here are seven dishes you must eat when in Switzerland.
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Eat Your Way Through Switzerland’s Culinary Delights with These 7 Foods
Roasted Basler Flour Soup
While flour soup might not exactly sound appetite-inducing, this iconic dish of Basel is delicious, flavored with onions, butter and beef stock mixed with white wheat flour. The roasted flour soup has a distinctive brownish look to it, along with a slight burnt taste which actually adds to the deliciousness. In the past, women were expected to learn how to make the soup, known as mehlsuppe, before getting married.
Especially enjoyed during Fasnacht, Basel's carnival season, the soup is quite a novelty and not so readily available in the rest of Switzerland. Canned versions are aplenty throughout the year, but if you come across a fresh batch, don't think about it, and just go for it.
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There's a remarkable, almost juvenile, feeling about indulging in this melted cheesy delight that has since become a trademark of Swiss cuisine. Fondue is heavenly and there's nothing that comes close to attaining culinary nirvana than a bowl of well-made blended cheese, bubbling away to dip into. Veggies, meats, or crackers, fondue works well with a variety of add-ons, making it a versatile dish available in every part of the country.
A word of caution, locals believe that one should never have fondue with a cold drink as it may solidify the cheese in the stomach. So, stick to warm tea, red wine or fizzy drinks when eating Switzerland most famous offering.
Where to eat: Fondue is available in most restaurants serving Swiss cuisine, so the trick is to instead pick on a scenic location, like on top of a mountain, from where you can take in the beauty of the country while the fondue warms your body and the soul. Just make sure you have time, for one must relish in the nuances of a good fondue, slowly.
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A large pancake, made with shredded potatoes, Rösti is immensely popular in Switzerland as a breakfast option. Although now, restaurants serve it throughout the day. The potato fritter either comes on its own or else is topped with a mixture of ingredients ranging from bacon and cheese to onions and fried egg, often sunny side up.
Considered as the national dish by many, there is a wholesome everyday charm to Rösti that makes it a favorite meal for all ages.
Where to eat: For a family-friendly dining option, check out Rösti Farm Bözenegg which serves one of the best versions of Rösti and also has happy hour prices on their food up until 16:00 every day.
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Raclette is another cheesy delight, albeit one that adds a hint of drama to the presentation. As a semi-hard cheese, a wheel of Raclette is characteristically cut in half and cooked under individual heaters that melt the top. The gooey melted cheese is then scraped off onto the plate, served alongside baby potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions and often various meats.
Where to eat - Raclette is often available as a take away during festivals, but for a proper sit-down lunch or dinner, head to Restaurant Whymper-Stube in the beautiful mountain town of Zermatt.
Filet de Perche
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Abundantly found in Lac Leman, perch is a local specialty around the Swiss Riviera. Fried, cooked in butter or served with white wine sauce, this silver scale fish is commonly served in lakeside restaurants and makes for a delectable meal. Most locals typically buy the daily catch at the weekly farmer's markets, whereas the more adventurous ones fish for it in the lake on their own.
Where to eat: Although most Swiss and French restaurants have the fish on their menu, Café du Port in Vevey and Restaurant du Lac in Geneva are two places famous for their perch fillets.
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It's almost a cardinal sin to be in Switzerland and not eat chocolates. It doesn't matter what kind you like because they've got everything here, from bitter dark chocolates to nutty ones and fruit-flavored delights to the ever-popular milky white version and so much more. The variety you'll find around the country is quite simply mind-boggling.
Toblerone gained universal love thanks to its unique taste and association with the iconic Matterhorn, but for a genuinely authentic Swiss feel, go for chocolates by Cailler. If you are a true chocoholic, then take the Chocolate Train, which serves the most delicious hot chocolate, all the way from Montreux to Broc. In Broc, you can walk through the Cailler chocolate factory to learn about the history of the iconic brand, and even pick up on a few special techniques during their chocolate making classes.
Where to eat: You'll find Swiss brand chocolates across all supermarkets, but the best place to buy them at a relatively lower price is at the Cailler chocolate factory. So, fill up your bags at their gift shop for Cailler chocolates, anything here makes for an excellent gift to take back home.
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No one can decide where exactly meringues originated, but Switzerland is one of the top contenders for the title. A not so simple dish made with just two ingredients, egg whites and sugar, meringues is crunchy with a subtle sweetness to them.
Meringues are perfect as a sweet snack but mainly go well with fruits or Gruyeres double cream. Emmentaler is the most popular brand in the country that has been producing meringues and other traditional baked goods since 1970.
Where to eat: The ideal way to enjoy meringues is to buy a pre-packed version from the shop at Gruyeres cheese factory and then have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, at home, to your heart's content.
Switzerland allows its visitors to indulge in a melange of food-based adventures. The country is home to some of the finest Michelin-starred restaurants, as well as, beautiful spots where the food is as good as the surrounding natural scenes witnessed from the table. For a more immersive experience, the weekly farmer's markets are an engaging opportunity to enjoy local wine, homemade baked goods, and fresh fruits and vegetables in an atmosphere of merriment and festivity.