I was lucky to participate to a « Food blogger tour » in Switzerland the weekend of the 21-22 and 23 of February. It was organized by Présence Suisse – the organism in charge of the coordination of the Swiss Pavilion for the 2015 Universal Exposition – this train-road trip had the objective of promoting the Swiss territory and gastronomy towards Italian social networks.
And for my first time in this country, I was in company of 9 talented and nice Italian “food blogger” (managing a blog in relation with cooking, gastronomy…you can find the list of their blog at the end of article).
We went to the discovery of Switzerland, its cooking and its links with agriculture: at the menu no fondue or raclette, but many meetings with chef, explanations on the origins and type of production of our food, presentation of local agriculture, tourism, tasting… we received really a whole-hearted welcome!
Not being a food blogger, no recipe in this reportage but small focuses where I will try to link our intense agenda of visits and tasting to the food and agriculture sustainable issues.
To learn more on Switzerland participation to Expo 2015, discover our new dedicated webpage.
Have a nice reading!
First thing first, some explanations about the tour we followed. I left from Rome on Friday night up to Milan. On Saturday morning, I found the food bloggers in the train direction the francophone and German speaking canton of Valais (blue on the map), covered by snow just for us, that is located in the south of Switzerland. With us in the train, many skiers carrying too many things, and I even heard some bells…complete Switzerland atmosphere!
On Saturday night, we went to Altdorf (yellow on the map), in the German speaking canton of Uri, in the center of the country. Finally on Sunday, we discovered the beautiful night carnival of Basel (purple on the map).
Eat local and follow season: it’s so much easier when the richness of the territory allows it
On Saturday lunch, the meeting with Chef Mauro Capelli that is practicing its talents within the restaurant « Café du théâtre de Monthey » was really interesting. The Chef used nearly exclusively local products, knows everything about their history and is very attentive to the social aspects. Every dishes were absolutely marvelous, and thru them, we were able to discover a part of the territory.
For Mauro, cooking is « childhood passion » and choosing local and seasonal products happens naturally. He explained that he was lucky to have learnt with a chef really attentive to those issues, cooking in a very classical way with good products. As for him, Mauro has a passion for Japanese cooking, but the “most important remains always the product, from them you can forward”. And within Vallais Canton, he’s very lucky because the territory is really rich: wine, orchards – with the famous canton apricots – mushroom…the Chef is also a green inventor, he worked some years ago on low temperatures jam. And not a long time, he even participated to “low energy consumption menu”…it was such a delight to meet someone like Mauro, always smiling and with such a green energy in him!
Bex saline : do you how is produced and where is coming from your salt ?
It is one of the most daily products ever, the salt. And if I knew about salt evaporation ponds (because in France we have a lot of them!), I didn’t know that salt could also be extracted for mines in mountains. And this is the case in Bex, since Switzerland was covered this sea million years ago, salt got stored in the rock.
Tall female dwarfs that we were, we travelled in a cute small train in the mine gallery that were dig by so many men and goes 50 km inside the bowels of the mountains in order to better understand the salt extraction method and discover the story the place.
To extract it, water is injected is the rock to melt the salt and then take it. Exploited since the XVI century, the saline employed up until 300 miners, who worked in very difficult working conditions, threatened at every moment by firedamp explosions. Today only two engineers are working to produce salt with many machines, all other jobs are linked to selling , tourism…this situation reflects a bit the evolution of many industries but also of our agriculture, where producing doesn’t mean anymore create jobs.
Nowadays the saline produces nearly 30 000 tons of salt, mostly used for salting roads, but also for food.
Traditional dishes –formerly local and sustainable – the example of Rhine Salmon
At Basel, one of the traditional dishes is the salmon pie flambé (I couldn’t taste it because I’m allergic to fish). Traditional, but also local, because the salmon that formerly was going back up the Rhin up until the XIX century progressively disappear because of dam and pollution. Today, a salmon reintroduction project conducted by the WWF is starting to work, but many difficulties remain: quality of the water, obstacles on the river.
The example of this dish traditional because formerly local, and having today lost its roots (the salmons served certainly came from Scandinavia) is just one case among many other. And what about you, the traditional dishes of your region, are –they still link to local productions?
Carnaval : culture and gastronomy, celebration and pleasure
This carnaval, I would recommand to anyone once in your life – this is absolutely magical – particularly the citytour during the morning to the sound of flute, after the parade with the beautiful masks. And respect the tradition : flour soup with oignons, cheese pie, white wine to celebrate starting the early morning!
What about the Swiss supermarket? Organic food and fair trade products are valorized
The blog tour which has been organized showed us the luxury side of the Switzerland cooking, but what about the Swiss lambda one? I try to observe a bit the Swiss supermarkets: there were a lot of Italian products as pasta, salami, French products, but also non seasonal fresh product, with a lot of packaging, many frozen products. Like everywhere in Europe! Still, I noted – compared to my French and Italian experiences of supermarket- that the organic and fair trade products were particularly valorized on the shelf. I have not stayed enough to tell more about it.
The food blogger universe: a growing passion for cooking / gastronomy and social networks…a lot of work!
I felt like the ovni of the trip, because by choice, I never bought a smartphone… even if I co-write this blog, I try not to be submerged by the social network and computers in my everyday life, which is already impossible at work.
This weekend has been for me the occasion to discover a new world, the one of the food blogger; I would even say a new job. My travelling companions – who have started their blog on a professional way or as a hobby for some years, twitting, and « facebooking » at a frenetic pace, even when eating - have all received many opportunities thanks to their blog. Gastronomy and cooking are so trendy that their job is really appreciated, and their presence on the social networks allows them to share information and experience with a huge community. Like me, they feel lucky to meet interesting people thanks to their blog! But on my side, relax…it is only now that I step back and write.
Large diversity of the gastronomy and diverse influence
My trip was not so long and I have obviously not seen everything in Switzerland, but I can already say I was impressed with such diversity! The languages, the architecture, the gastronomy, the people… from one canton to another I had the impression to travel many kilometers. It is amazing to see in what extent our kitchen and our food can reflect this cultural and regional diversity, and enable us to rediscover that what is inside our plate is a good way to understand a country and its inhabitants. Even within a weekend, a window, a world can open up through a plate.
When I think about it, it was a great weekend, very intense! I already know that I will go back in Switzerland, and this time I will for sure eat a good fondue!
List of blogs: