Don't give the Swiss a miss

IT MUST be getting rather cold up there in Switzerland for all these musicians from there to have landed in Bangalore. And be driven straight from the airport to the Taj West End where the Swiss Food Festival is on at the Gardenia up to December 15.

Swiss cuisine, like the country, is multi-faceted but with a marked characteristic of its own, and is intimately linked with the geographical attributes of that small and prosperous nation. Just as Switzerland's mountains alternate between severity and majesty, rough and soft, so too her cooking, which is simple and substantial, yet rich.

Since Swiss democracy was built from the bottom upward, local eating habits take the same course and the influences can be unmistakably traced to the first founders of the Confederation, the Alpine peasants, and the smaller bourgeoisie of the towns. Swiss cooking is also inspired from across her borders with France, Italy, and Germany. It is worth taking this culinary trip as it will be a delectable experience of one's lifetime.

The most famous and popular Swiss specialty is Rosti, an ingeniously simple and tasty dish made from potatoes, served both in modest country inns and elegant city restaurants. Potatoes were not widely cultivated there till the second half of the 18th Century when there was a famine. Since then, it has become a staple food. Rosti is now usually combined with a meat dish like fried sausage, grilled liver or chopped veal and accompanied by wine, beer, or mineral water. A highlight of the Swiss food festival will be Lindt chocolates from a 155-year-old Swiss firm. The chocolates are as well known as Swiss watches today and are available in India. Another feature will be Swiss wines without which the culinary experience will not be complete. Excellent wines like the dry, light, and lively Fendant or the dry, full-bodied Chasselas or the fine, elegant, and racy Pinot Noir or the powerful, full-bodied Merlot del Ticino.

The Director of the Swiss Hub, Joseph Koch, lets us into a little known facet of history: mercenaries from Switzerland served in the army of Tipu Sultan.

By Satyamurty K.

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