I decided to write a post about one of the most interesting, different and delicious parts of my exchange (and as my host dad would say, the most important part too..) food, or in German, essen!
BREAKFAST-In Switzerland, breakfast is far less important than it is in America. People usually just have some yogurt, or maybe some müesli (like a cereal) every morning. My host parents chop up a bunch of different fruits every night, and mix them in a bowl with some lemon juice and leave it outside to cool. Then in the morning, every person in the family just scoops up a little in a bowl, and then heads out. The only time breakfast is big is on Sundays, when families gather together to have brunch.
BRUNCH- Brunch, or something like it, is usual for most families in Switzerland. They all gather together and cover the table with bunches of different foods. Some typical foods are yogurts, cheeses, dried meats, olives, gipfelis (croissants) and zopf bread. My host mom makes a zopf bread ever Saturday night for the family, and we all eat it together Sunday morning.
LUNCH-Lunch is also very different in Switzerland. It is always served hot, and people reserve at least 20-30 minutes for eating. PB&J sandwiches are unheard of, and sack lunches are never used. Instead, most kids go home to eat some pasta and salad with their family for lunch. During school, younger children will walk home, and older teens will go to buy hot sandwiches or kebabs (what can I say? Swiss people love their Turkish food) in town. During weekends, lunch is always eaten as a family. I really like this, since it is something my family never did. We always just had to find our own food, so it is really relaxing just having your parents prepare a hot meal for you. I also appreciate how my host parents cook together every single meal. I like how it is not expected that the mom should have to cook, and that my host dad is a very good cook as well.
DINNER-Dinner is the meal most similar in both countries. Although there are foods that are more common here (my host family eats beets all the time), dinner is basically the same meal. Some of my favorite dinners we have had recently are: thin crust italian pizza, this weird plum quiche thing, garlic lasagna and trout.
Birchermüsli- This is one of my favorite Swiss foods. I have kind of an obsession with it, I'll admit it. I have been known to buy myself some birchermüsli for lunch after just having eaten it for breakfast. I can not describe the goodness of this food! It never looks appetizing, but somehow manages to amaze me every time I eat some. I guess the best way to describe it is a fruit salad. There is cream and vanilla and fruit all mixed together, but it tastes so much better than a fruit salad. I guess I will have to make some for my family when I get home.
(and yes, I have made my own Zopf before--twice!)
RACLETTE AND FONDUE- And of course, you can not make a list of Swiss foods without including the famous dishes of Raclette and Fondue. Swiss fondue is to die for. One important difference between it, and the fondue I have had before, is that it always has a wine base in it. Sometimes that wine really has a punch in it. Also, it is almost always served during winter, and only for special occasions. And chocolate fondue is unheard of. Raclette is almost equally as famous as Swiss fondue, but it is not as common in America. For raclette, a large oven is placed in the middle of the table, where each family member can melt his own cheese in the little bowl-like thing you see in the picture. Then, you pour your melted cheese over meets and vegetables. You can also sprinkle paprika and pepper, or some onions in your cheesey creation. It is delicious too, and also almost exclusively eaten around Christmas time.
Some other differences between Swiss and American drinks are that Swiss people almost always drink carbonated water. That is what is served at restaurants, and you have to specify if you want just normal water. Teenagers drink ice tea all the time here too, which is different from America. Coffee is also offered after desert, and it is usually an espresso. I really like having a coffe to end a meal, and I love the way it tastes with a cake or something. I am also super jealous of the cafe machines people have here. Almost every house I have been to has an espresso machine, which allows you to have lattes available 24/7! My family just got one, and I use it all the time now. Also a note on coffee in Switzerland--if you are looking for a cheap cup of joe, don't go to Starbucks, where drinks are meant for being drinken there and usually cost around $8.
All in all, Swiss food is DELICIOUS and there is far much more than just chocolate and cheese (I avoided chocolate on my list for that reason, but yes, it is amazing here too, and eaten so frequently!). I know Switzerland isn't the culinary capital of Europe like Italy or France, but that is because there food is a blend of French, Italian and German cuisines. It is so interesting how Swiss food has aspects of all these different cultures in it, while still maintaining to have it's own Swiss identity as well.