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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Switzerland

Switzerland Food and Drink

Swiss cuisine is hearty, filling fare with different regions bearing various degrees of influence from their German, French and Italian neighbours. With wheat farming less suited to higher altitudes, Swiss farmers have instead focused on dairy, hence the large number of Swiss cheeses.

Though not native to Europe (they were introduced by the Spaniards returning from Latin America), potatoes are now a Swiss staple, as are cured sausages and air-dried meats, while lake fish such as trout and char are commonly found on menus.

Those with a sweet tooth will be in heaven; Switzerland is, of course, at the forefront of chocolate manufacturing, producing some of the best sweet stuff on the planet. The little-exported Swiss wine, in particular whites, are excellent, and domestic beer, both lager and dark ales, are also widely available.

Specialities

Fondue: A delicious concoction of Gruyère and Vacherin cheese, melted and mixed with white wine, flour, Kirsch and a little garlic.
Raclette: Cheese melted over a fire or grill and served with onions, pickles and bread or jacket potatoes.
Berner platte: A selection of meats and sausages cooked with sauerkraut, beans and boiled potatoes.
Viande sèchée: Dried beef or pork from Valais and the Grisons (where it is called bündnerfleisch), served with pickled onions.
Pieds de porc: Pigs' trotters.
Rösti: A flat, round hot cake made with shredded fried potatoes.
Fondue bourguignonne: Cubes of seasoned meat cooked in oil or butter and served with various sauces.
Leckerli: Spiced honey cakes topped with icing sugar, decorated in Bern with a white sugar bear.
Kirsch: A clear hard spirit made from sour cherries.
Chasselas: A grape widely used to produce dry and delicate Swiss white wines.

Tipping

Tips are already included within hotel and restaurant bills, but it is customary to tip a little extra for good service.

Drinking age

The legal drinking age is 16 for beer and wine and 18 for spirits.

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