MILK!

2 Sep

cows going to higher pasture

Switzerland is not a country for the lactose intolerant.  The cows with their clanging bells are a national symbol which can be seen everywhere.  Not only do they dot the mountainsides, but any spare piece of green in the towns is also home to a cow or two.  And it’s not just real cows, their images are everywhere, from the full size souvenir cow bellsfibreglass cows outside the dairy, to TV programmes about mountain life featuring cowhearders and the ubiquitous miniature cow bells in souvenir shops.

All these cows are dairy animals, and milk in it’s various formations is the basis of most meals.  There’s ‘cheese cutlet’, which is a fried, breaded slice of cheese – not a dish for the faint hearted; rosti and spatzle (similar to gnocchi) covered in melted cheese, raclette, alpine macaroni cheese (with a side of apple puree), and of course the famous fondue.  Milk is yoghurtalso turned into yoghurt, which comes in myriad varieties, none of which are sold in tubes, or other novelty containers; butter, which is used to fry rosti, caramel sweets and of course chocolate.  The supermarket chocolate aisle was at least four times as long as the cereal aisle.  And that’s including the famous Swiss bircher muesli.

The most bizarre milk product we came across is a fizzy drink called Rivella, which is flavoured with lactose.  It has a slightly floral taste not unlike elderflower.  It’s very sweet, like most fizzy drinks, but refreshing, and comes in three types, full fat, diet and the variety with green tea added, which I thought was the nicest.

heating milkCheese is not only something to eat, it’s a form of entertainment too.  In true ‘Come Outside’ fashion (for those of you without access to CBeebies, this is a programme about Auntie Mabel and her dog Pippin, who fly around in a spotty plane finding out how things are made), we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the Appenzeller cheese factory.  We learnt all kinds of interesting facts about cheese and played on a giant cheese slide.  As days out go, it was a corker.

cheeseIt would be wrong to talk about Swiss milk without mentioning goats.  We saw fewer than I expected, having read Heidi umpteen times, but we did see a few, some of which we fed at the Heidi museum (of which, more later).  We also tried a few of their products, the soft, fresh, salty cheese was delicious but goat mozzarella was a bit more challenging. The goats milk had quite a strong flowery taste, which the children proclaimed disgusting and refused to drink.

But it is the cows who are the real stars in Switzerland.  Their presence can be felt wherever you go, from the sound of melodiously clanging bells heard in the unlikeliest of places, to the sight of milk churns cooling in troughs of icy mountain water as you walk past the milk shop.  Every time we saw one, which was often, the children would shout ‘COWS’ and it was a true highlight of our holiday when, whilst hiking on our last afternoon, we met a herd of cows being driven up to a higher pasture.  They were friendly gentle creatures, who all gave us a sniff as they ambled past on their way up the mountain.  It was a fitting end to a wonderful holiday.milk churns

This post is part of Wanderfood Wednesday. For more travel food stories, head here.

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6 Responses to “MILK!”

  1. Weston-super-Mum 02/09/2009 at 8:37 pm #

    These photos are fabulous, especially of the cows on the road

    Maybe I should go to Switzerland? I would be welcomed as my name, Rebecca, is hebrew for heifer x

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 03/09/2009 at 9:47 am #

      I like the name Rebecca, but who on earth was the first person to call their baby daughter after a cow?

  2. marina villatoro 03/09/2009 at 2:10 am #

    What great info. I love visiting different factories. There is a cheese factory in Monteverde, Costa Rica. I am sure I am the only one who dragged her family to the tour:) but it was fun, delicous and informative!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 03/09/2009 at 9:52 am #

      I had a kids DVD which is just a series of factory tours. It’s great!

  3. Laura Driver 03/09/2009 at 9:39 am #

    A … cheese … slide? I must have one.

    Sounds fabulous, I love travelling with you!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 03/09/2009 at 9:46 am #

      We go to all the best places!

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