Cesar Ritz

Cesar Ritz

Born peniless in 1850 in Niederwald in Valais Ritz, with ingenuity and exacting standards, went from those humble beginnings to having his very name be a synonym for unabashed luxury.

Zopf, a history

Zopf

Ever-present in Swiss breadboxes and on Sunday breakfast tables is the plaited, golden Zopf / Tresse / Treccia, whose name literally means ‘braid’ in German, French, and Italian.

Stalden Creme

Stalden Creme

Produced since 1903, this vanilla pudding in a can has been a Swiss favourite for over a century.

It's named for the tiny hamlet where the first factory was built, Stalden, which today is a part of the larger community of Konolfingen and is where the Berneralpen Milchgesellschaft was founded in 1896.

And who founded that company? None other than master hotelier Caesar Ritz.

Absinthe

Absinthe

During the late 1800s absinthe was the drink of choice for bohemians and artists alike. Although now it's thought that much of its psychoactive properties were exaggerated, tales of hallucinations and mania led to the drink being vilified and banned in the early 20th century.

Toblerone

Toblerone

In 2011 I took some Toblerone bars from Bern to Calgary. A blind taste test ensued. Experts were consulted. Smell and taste were analyzed. Mouthfeel was evaluated. The deliberation was short and unanimous.

The Swiss bars won.

I thought that this was down to some difference in production or higher chocolate standards in Switzerland.

Imagine my surprise to discover that all, yes ALL, Toblerone bars are produced in Bern.

Ovomaltine

Ovomaltine

Ovomaltine is one of the most famous and recognizable Swiss products. It is a mix-in-milk powder made from malt, egg, and milk, and flavoured with cocoa. The original recipe was developed in 1904 in Bern and remains largely unchanged today.

Fasnacht

Fasnacht

In Switzerland, Fasnacht is celebrated in the typical waybig street parties, loud music, parades, dressing-up, many traditional fried delicacies, and plenty of drinking.

Dr Maximilian Oscar Bircher-Benner

Dr Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner

During the early 20th century Switzerland was not just an alpine paradise for skiers and adventure seekers, but also for patients seeking retreats and cures in the fresh mountain air.

Sanatoriums could be found throughout the Alps, and one of the most famous belonged to Dr. Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner, the creator of Birchermüesli. 

Zibelemärit

Zibelemärit

At four in the morning the festivities begin. Although the official start time isn't until six, by four the farmers have already set up their wares throughout the streets of Bern, from the train station to the old town. By five the streets are filled with visitors and Bernese alike, steaming cups of Glühwein and slices of onion tart in hand. Onions, as far as the eye can see. Braided onions, onion figurines, onion pie, onion sausages, and onion soup.

And confetti. 

Walliser Wine

Walliser Wine

The wines of the Wallis (Valais in French) are some of Switzerland's best. The climate of this region is unique and varied, with the famous ski resorts of Zermatt, Verbier and Saas Fee receiving hefty precipitation, while towns like Brig, Sion, and Sierre, deep in the Rhône Valley, have hot summers and a dry terroir. This climate favours wine production, and here they make the most of any canton in the country. Although they mainly produce Pinot Noir, Chasselas, and Gamay grapes, there are a number of grape varieties and blends that are unique to the Wallis. 

Gansabhauet

Gansabhauet

Perhaps the strangest of Swiss traditions, the Gansabhauet involves masked and blindfolded participants trying to win a dead goose by severing its neck with a blunt sword.