Forget ski goggles and leave the ugly sweater at home (I know you would rock it though, Lex)…. I wanted the cheese in Switzerland. I have such a passion for cheese, and I’ve never met one that I didn’t like.
Leslie’s friend Marie lives in Lausanne and we had decided to spend a few days there with our very own tour guide. Marie took us to a fondue restaurant one night, kindly indulging us even though apparently the Swiss don’t really go to fondue restaurants in the summer. Oh well, we were in heaven. We walked in and we were transported to a cozy ski chalet with checkered table cloths and inviting tables. Here comes the three course fondue meal that we were accustomed to in the U.S. —-but no, it wasn’t like that at all. She giggled at our perplexed faces…where is the meat course, and WHERE is the chocolate fondue??? She said they didn’t have chocolate fondue, and must be an American indulgence. It’s all about the cheese here. It was very simple, cheese, potatoes, and bread. How could something so simple be so good? Before we knew it, we were there all night, enjoying the cheese and conversation.
If you got a craving for cheese based on that, then watch out! Later in the trip, Marie decided to have a raclette party. Raclette is both a cheese made in the Swiss Alps, and the dish that consists of the melted Raclette cheese. Marie gathered about 15 of us in the living room and we drank and got to know each other. Some of the group were friends of hers from Lausanne, some were her friends from grad school in England, and some—like me—were lucky enough to tag along. After the wine was flowing and everyone had become fast friends, she opened the door to the room we would be eating in. What heaven! Around the perimeter of the room were cushions from just about anything she could find. In front of the cushions were these black machines that bore a striking resemblance to an Easy Bake Oven. How could it get better than eating on the floor and using a fun devise for our food? Everyone passed around bowls of boiled potatoes and garnishes (gherkins and that sort) and then came the cheese! I placed a couple slices of cheese on a cast iron plate (I loaded up to keep it saucy) and put the plate in the portable oven devise…out came ooey gooey perfection. I scraped it off the plate and on top of the potatoes. I must have eaten 20 of those stinkin potatoes that night. The whole while, we all got a laugh out of fun stories, and inevitably came the debate (which happens in every country I go to) that Swiss music was better than American music. To prove it, the boom box played throughout dinner. Although I may not run out and become a Swiss music groupie, I wouldn’t have wanted to listen to anything else that night.
The Swiss have a love for cheese… heck, they even invented a machine just to melt the Raclette. Wouldn’t it be fun to start a Raclette café? Who’s with me? We could sit around, melting cheese, listening to fun (albeit corky) music and share wine with anyone that comes to the café. I think some in-depth research would need to be done in Switzerland before we start this venture.