What to eat in Switzerland?
While enjoying a cheese fondue, mushrooms and sausages on an open fire in the forest, I was thinking of Swiss Food. What are typical Swiss Foods that you must try when in Switzerland? Of course, there is more to it when it comes to Swiss food than cheese fondue, but it is an interesting and difficult question, even for the Swiss, as many foods vary per Canton, and sometimes within the Canton, recipes may even vary per village.
So what is our favorite Swiss Food? Find out here!
Who doesn’t love a good Birchermüesli? This might be the most famous Swiss food besides cheese fondue. It is known as a breakfast, but the Swiss can eat it at any time of the day. It is healthy, and easy to make! If you would like to make your own Birchermüesli and eat it at a beautiful location like we did in Blatten in front of the Aletsch Glacier, then check out the recipe we use to make it: https://letsexplore.ch/switzerland-birchermuesli/
2. Meringues à la double crème de Gruyère
This traditional Swiss dessert can be enjoyed in many restaurants all over Switzerland and can also be bought at the supermarkets to eat it at home. The best place to eat it however is of course in the town of Gruyères.
3. Cheese Fondue in the outdoors
Everybody knows Cheese Fondue of course! In Switzerland there are some fun locations to eat Cheese Fondue, like in a cable car, on a train, on a boat, in a forest at night, or in an igloo. The Swiss like to eat in an adventurous style in the outdoors, and not only cheese fondue. There are daycares that take children to grill sausages on open fire quite regularly.
Some places make it easy for you to enjoy eating out in nature: at Oeschinensee you can buy a ready to go grill pack to grill by the beautiful mountain lake, and in some places you can rent a cheese fondue backpack to add some Swissness to your hikes! We tested this in two places. In Gstaad, you can order a fondue backpack and eat your fondue in one of the big picnic fondue pots, and in Wengen, you can also rent a fondue backpack and just enjoy your fondue wherever you like.
4. More Cheese… La Croute au Fromage
For me, this is the Swiss, and more elaborated, answer to the ‘Croque Monsieur’. It literally is a slice of bread with melted cheese poured over it on the plate. It exists with a whole bunch of ingredients like tomatoes, mushrooms and other toppings.
The Swiss consider Rösti a national dish, but its origin lies in the Canton of Bern and is mainly eaten in the German part of Switzerland. The border between the French and the German parts of Switzerland is sometimes humorously named ‘Röstigraben’, referring to the cultural boundary between the two. To make a Rösti, bits of potatoes are fried in a pan and look a bit like a big potato pancake in the end. Rösti is a very common dish in Swiss restaurants.
6. Cholera in Wallis
It may not sound so tasty, but it actually is. One of the local specialties from Wallis is called Cholera… This completely inoffensive Swiss dish consists of a vegetable pie with potatoes, onions and apple. Very nice!
7. Capuns in Canton Graubünden
We love Capuns!! A delicious regional specialty from the Canton Graubünden. Capuns have Spätzle dough inside, often with pieces of dried meat and are wrapped in chard leaf. They are boiled in a creamy sauce and are often served with grated cheese on top.
8. Longeole in Geneva, sausage with cumin and fennel…
Switzerland has a lot of regional typical sausages. In Geneva, one of the local sausages is called a Longeole. You can find a Longeole at some local festivals, buy it at traditional butcher shops, or eat it in a local restaurant.
9. Nidelkuchen in Murten / Morat, Fribourg region
Even though Murten is a small town, it even has its own culinary specialty, the Nidelkuchen. Nidelkuchen is a delicious pie, with a creamy caramel upper layer. Very delicious! Highly recommended to buy a slice at a local bakery and eat it by the lake.
10. Cheese again… Malakoff, Vaud
Malakoff is a specialty in the Canton Vaud, and eaten at festivals, or in restaurants. Its name comes from a Fort called Malakoff which was besieged by Swiss soldiers that had joined the French or British army. During the siege that lasted for 11 months, they made these cheese beignets which they then named after the Malakoff Fort.
11. Soupe de Chalet, Fribourg region
Soupe de Chalet is a creamy soup cooked with what was at hand at chalets in the mountains around Fribourg or Gruyère. The soup contains milk, cream, pasta, potatoes, wild spinach and herbs found in the mountains.
12. Cardon Genevois
Photo: from patrimoineculinaire.ch
Cardon Genevois is a vegetable which is relatively unknown outside of Geneva and almost only cultivated in Geneva! It is traditional to eat it on the side of a Christmas dinner, often prepared in a ‘gratin’ oven dish. My husbands family sometimes makes this, and it’s delicious. You can buy Cardon Genevois all year round in jars in Geneva’s supermarkets, but also fresh on the markets in December.
Cenovis is quite peculiar in taste, and is often compared to the British Marmite. For me, the taste is a bit like a stock cube you would use to cook, but in a spreadable form. This said, Cenovis can be your secret ingredient while cooking and is a known ingredient for a salad sauce! In Geneva people mostly eat it on a slice of bread with butter. You will either love, or hate Cenovis. The salty spread is said to be healthy and contains lots of Vitamin B. It was initially made for soldiers so they had something to eat in difficult times. Cenovis is known in whole Switzerland, but most popular in the French speaking part.
14. La Marmite de l’Escalade in Geneva, and how to eat it!
Only in November and December unfortunately, so don’t miss it when they are there.
The ‘Marmite de l’Escalade’ is eaten to celebrate the ‘Escalade in Geneva’. On that day the Genevois managed to chase the enemy, amongst others by pouring hot soup over the soldiers that attacked their city. That is why they eat soup in December, and well, because it is Switzerland, they also made a chocolate version of the soup cauldron with marzipan vegetables inside.
How it is eaten: you put your chocolate Marmite on a clean kitchen towel and fold it around it (so that you won’t hurt your hands). Then, the youngest, and the oldest person in your family put their hands together into in one big fist and break the chocolate Marmite while saying the words: ‘Et ainsi périrent les ennemis de la République!’ (Thus did perish the enemies of the Republic!). Then you fold open the kitchen towel and share the pieces of chocolate and the marzipan vegetables, yum!
Of course, there is so much more Swiss food! Are you located in a different Canton and do you have other favorites? Let us know, we would love to hear all about it!