1. Chocolate: Swiss chocolate makes Hershey’s look like a banal, glorified bar of sugar. The best part is, famous brands of Lindt and Toblerone only scratch the surface and are not nearly as indulgent as glacé slabs or bonbons from any of the countless chocolatiers, my personal favorite of Cailler Frigor Noir dark chocolate or even the budget brand found for less than a franc in a small grocery store.
2. Cheval: Just keep that French word in mind unless you want to eat horse. Though it may have been a scandal to have horse meat in other European countries, the Swiss love their horse meat. Usually served dried and with cheese, it is as ubiquitous as ham or prosciutto.
3. Rivella: If you need a beverage to wash down that piece of horse you didn’t mean to eat, you’ll probably find a drink called Rivella somewhere close. A carbonated drink made from milk whey, despite the popularity of this Swiss-born drink, it seems to be an acquired taste as it has failed in the U.K. and U.S. markets.
4. Raclette: When you order this dish, you will be given a half-wheel of Raclette cheese, a burner, a few small pickled onions and potatoes. Using the burner to heat the easily-meltable cheese, heat, scrape and enjoy this very Swiss meal. Preferably in some wooden chalet.
5. Ovomaltine: No, I did not misspell Ovaltine, though the similarities in packaging and products are striking. Usually chocolate in one form or another, Ovomaltine is a Swiss-brand that makes cookies, powder mix, crunchy spread, snack bars, chocolate bars, granola mix though I can’t say I’ve tried them all, its crunch biscuits are top-notch cookies.
6. Schnitzel: I worried my parents before going abroad by saying how I was not going to be shy about asking men what kind of schnitzel they had. I wasn’t joking. Street schnitzel was the best. But really, I bought a great andalouse sausage from a vendor in Zermatt, bratwurst in the Basel train station, kielbasa while skiing … all were weiners! I mean winners. They were all winners.
7. Älplermagronen: Or Alpine herdsman’s macaroni in English, this is a one-pot wonder I plan on making back at school. A mix of macaroni (I had it with buckwheat noodles and that was really great, too), potatoes, onions, small pieces of bacon and obviously, cheese.
8. Rösti: If you like potatoes, then this dish is for you, because that’s all it is. Essentially hash browns, Rösti consists of grated potatoes fried into a pancake shape and topped only with salt and pepper.
9. Kebab: Though they may not be a typical Swiss dish as the ones above, a kebab is usually what other students and I turned to for an cheap and quick meal out at any hour. When you think kebab, think of the Greek gyro, not skewered vegetables. Around ten francs and almost as many kebab shops as chocolatiers, kebabs came to be a staple as it was the only food we could afford to eat out.
10. Find Peanut Butter: Ok, so this isn’t a new food to try, but as a fellow American I challenge you to this food task: try to find peanut butter in any grocery store. You’ll probably (maybe) find it, but it’ll take a while. Unlike the half of an aisle that is designated to peanut butter in Wegmans, you’ll find it tucked in some corner on the bottom shelf in only one size (small) and with only one variety. Buy it and be stereotyped as American. Buy Nutella and blend in. I bought peanut butter with pride, just sayin’.
Though the gastronomy tour of Switzerland has been fun, I must admit I am excited to get back to the U.S. for comforts I remember: rosemary salt bagels from CTB, breakfast at Trill, Chipotle runs and just any meal or sandwich for less than 10 dollars. Switzerland, I love you, but you use an awful lot of cheese for someone who’s lactose intolerant and have no acceptable chips and salsa options. ‘Merica, I’m ready for some good ol’ home eatin’.
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