In the German speaking regions of Switzerland popular items such as Pork Schnitzel with French fries, Veal Julienne with mushrooms in a cream sauce served with potato hash browns (Roesti) are more likely influences from Germany and Austria according to cookbook author Alice Vollenweider whom discovered old recipes from the 19th century in which this Geschnetzeltes was described in, it was not until 1947 though when today’s version of Geschnetzeltes Zürich Style appeared in a cookbook by Rosa Graf.
Where it all Started
I was born in the Canton of Argovia in the Nord of Switzerland, one of the food items I grew up with is a dish called Schnitz und Drunder, a rough translation would be Sections and Stuff , it is a one pot dish consisting of potatoes, bacon, dehydrated pear and apple sections.
During my childhood when times were rough and we couldn’t afford to buy meat my mother came up with a shortcut of this dish by using left over bread slices toasted in butter and then she added steamed apple sections to it and mixed it all up. It alway did the job by filling our bellies!
For dessert there was Carrot Cake Argovia style, this carrot cake derives from the name “Rüebliland” ( carrot land) since in the 19th century the people living in the region around the capital of Aarau, were I was born, mainly cultivated turnips.
The Diversity of Foods
Should you be traveling through the French speaking regions of Switzerland you will note the influence of the neighboring France especially the Alsace region.
My friend Patrick Calvetti and his family own Restaurant de la Croix d’Or in the village of Orbe, situated between the Lake of Neuchatel and Lac Leman (Lausanne); his weekly specialties feature such items as; Ramequin this consists of slices of Whitebread overbaked with regional cheeses, the taste and flavor is derived from a tasty seasoned egg & milk mixture poured over the whole dish before baking. The Saucisson en Croûte is a well seasoned pork sausage, poached in a broth with seasoning, leeks and white wine, it’s then wrapped in a pizza or pastry dough and baked for about 30 minutes, mustard is then added to the broth and thickened with egg yolks to be served as a sauce with the sausage.
From the Canton of Neuchatel comes Jacquerie Neuchateloise this is a one pot dish consisting of Sauerkraut (choucroute) bacon, seasonings and white wine from the Neuchatel vineyards served with chicken breast. The slowly cooked sauerkraut with the bacon and white wine, thickened by adding a grated fresh potato is then served with chicken breast braised in white wine, a sauce is made by adding garlic, butter, anchovies cream and parsley, and then served together with the sauerkraut and bacon.
Federal Council’s Favorite Dessert
Personally one of my favorite foods in Switzerland is a local fish from the lakes all across Switzerland such as Egli filet (Perch), sautéed in butter with toasted almonds, lemon and parsley served with steamed potatoes and wilted garlicky spinach.. Yum yum!
My favorite dessert in the world originated in my home Canton of Argovia, it’s called “Bundesrat Schaffner Torte” it was created for a Federal Council by the name of Schaffner back in 1961 when the small community of Graenichen organized a reception for the newly elected Federal Council Schaffner from Graenichen.
For this special occasion the baker/confectioner Ernst Wolleb created this special dessert.
The cake consists of multiple layers of Merengue, cream and sponge.
When I tasted this cake the first time it almost blew my mind, the texture was absolutely amazing, light, fluffy and not too sweet, it was like having angels dancing on your tongue!
The cake is still today a popular dessert in most parts of Switzerland but sold under a different name and in my opinion not quite like the original.
Of course let’s not forget the prime cuts of Swiss beef, veal, lamb and chicken all bred in Switzerland!
Should you be interested in any of the recipes from this article please send me an email and I will be happy to provide them for you.
Bon Appetite, Buen Provecho, Guten Appetite, Buon Appetito
Ulrich’s Food and Travel Blogs