Swiss cuisine can often bedivided along their linguistic lines; the Swiss Germans, the French-speakers, the Italian-speakers – and Graubünden. Many well-known Swiss dishes are based on a number of home-grown staple foods such as milk, cheese, cereals, pork, vegetables, fruit and wine and have been developed over centuries.
A well-known dish of the Swiss Germans is Rösti, similar to hash browns. Rösti has even got a political role in Switzerland, being one of the things that divide German and French speaking Swiss. In political analysis and comments one can often hear and read the expression “Röstigraben” (rösti trench) for political and cultural differences between the two regions.
Although Rösti is a popular dish in all German speaking Swiss cantons, one of the famous recipes is the Bernese Rösti.
The French-speakers in Switzerland are more influenced by the French culture of the table. Given the fact that some of Switzerland’s largest lakes are located in the French part of Switzerland, lake fish is frequently served. One of the most popular fish dishes is filets de perches (fried fillets of perch).
A typical delicacy from the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland that is enjoying a renaissance is chestnuts. Once chestnuts were the “bread of the poor”, roasted in old smoking huts or “grà”. Today chestnut trails lead through the forests, and in the autumn, chestnuts appear on the menu of just about every restaurant. During winter, chestnuts are sold on the streets, being a popular snack during a stroll through Switzerland’s towns.
Listen to Amy Weber’s report on World Radio Switzerland attending a chestnut festival in Ticino, and presenting a recipe of delicious chestnut vermicelli.
One thing that unites all Swiss people is their passion for cheese and bread.
Hard cheese, soft cheese, cottage cheese, cheese made in mountain chalets, cheese made in valley factories, cheese shaved into rosettes, cheese boxed in red pine, cheese melted in wine to make fondue, hot cheese dribbled over potatoes to make raclette. There's much more to Swiss cheese than making holes!
Switzerland claims it has more varieties of bread than any other country, between 200 and 300 kinds, rivaling the number of its cheeses. A typical Swiss Sunday treat is Zopf, or in Bernese dialect Züpfe, an ornate plaited loaf that has its origins in traditional farmer’s cuisine. It is made of bread dough with added butter and milk.