Tag Archives: culinary

Baking Power

The wish for some seasonal baking has been in the room for a while now and things finally fell into place with all the right ingredients and plenty of time at hand to engage in some creative baking.

Joulutorttu was the suggestion and it seemed straight forward enough even for my long idling baking abilities. And so it was… until the oven played a trick on me and burned the marmalade. Because we were supposed to use preserves instead of marmalade which we only did for half of the Joulutorttu.

But never mind, we didn’t eat the run out, burned marmalade and since the rest was still very much okay we had ourselves a nice little baking adventure. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself…

Christmas Feast

For Christmas Eve we created a very traditional dinner with a Finnish ham, turnip and potato casseroles and Russian salad.

The food in fact lasted several evenings because the smallest ham we were able to find after what seemed to the younger generation like an eternity was still over 2kg.

I didn’t mind, I mostly love leftovers as they’re easy to handle and only need warming up. Great choice in menu, my Wiking man!


About a week ago for whatever reason I suddenly remembered southern buttermilk biscuits. Not sure what brought this on. When I tasted these the first time down in Texas I remember thinking to myself “Wow, this is like sour cream – there should be no meal without it!” I’m pretty sure many of you out there share that sentiment (though not necessarily when it comes to sour cream, that’s just my very personal taste).

Anyways, today I finally managed to get some done for myself and oh golly, are they delicious… not sure how I survived without them cold turkey for almost four years… I missed you guys!!

Not one to usually talk to food but this one just speaks to me.

Home Cafeteria

When it comes to lunch I’m really lucky to work where I do as we can choose from two restaurants that serve as our very own cafeterias. One is open exclusively to the staff over lunch, the other one opens half the floor to us and half the floor to the public.

Though I’m not a big eater if asked what I miss most about being away from the office I’d say it’s (apart from chatting with various colleagues I don’t interact on a work basis regularly) the lunch menu. But do not fret: I live right next to a restaurant and in order to survive they started offering second breakfast (yes, this Hobbit habit is a strong part of Swiss culture) and lunch take-away services and it’s fabulous: I just cross the side road, I can even bring my own plate as it’s that close, and voilà – I’m served my lunch for a mere CHF 15. Though I do pay 20 because I’m not going every day, I’m saving money staying at home anyways and they can certainly use the cash. Lunch is absolutely delicious and fuels me through the long afternoons behind the laptop. Thanks neighbors!

Good Habits

About a week ago COVID-19 helped me make a healthier choice. I was tempted to pass by McDrive to celebrate the start of the weekend. But as luck had it, the Mac down the road was actually closed, including their drive-in (drive-through for all Americans among you) and take-away.

So I was forced to eat at home and stick to my good habits: I ended up having salad and chicken nuggets.


Last night I thought I still had a Bitter Lemon in my fridge so why not have a gin with Bitter Lemon? So I poured in the gin and went to the fridge, opened it and – discovered that the Bitter Lemon was gone. I wrecked my head over when I’d drank it but couldn’t remember for the life of me.

So I started studying the other choices of liquids in my fridge which comprised of salad dressing, sparkling wine and milk. My mind wandered to the various scenes in the movie “The Big Lebowski” where Jeff Bridges is drinking a White Russian. I decide to look up what options I have as I’m pretty certain that pouring the gin back into the bottle is none… or doomed to fail. So I might just as well drink it some way.

On the internet I swiftly found the page “Drinking like an old man” that offered me a mixture of gin and mild with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top. Unfortunately, I was out of nutmeg so I simply poured the milk onto the gin. Not sure whether it’s the lack of nutmeg but that drink certainly needs some getting used to… After drinking about half of it and still not being convinced I decided the drink definitely lacked a certain tartness so I added a good spritz of lemon juice. This actually improved the taste greatly but it was not long before the lemon and milk decided they were never becoming best friends and thus separated… there went my experiment, only semi-successful. But once again I had to admit to myself that I’m pretty brave and seldom shy of a culinary experiment 😉

I’m confused!

Photo Dec 20, 12 58 18 PM
Always my first buy in Switzerland: Rivella!

I’ve been living in the U.S. for a little over 2 years now and it’s been almost a year since my last visit to Switzerland and as swiftly as that have I been Americanized – to my better half’s delight.* (Für Deutsch hier klicken)

When arriving in Zurich the usual first impressions hit me: The toilet flush that swirls the water down the pipe instead of sucking it out; the meticulous cleanliness; the timeliness of public transportation and – public transportation in general!

Photo Dec 20, 12 08 40 PM
Swiss vs. Texas tea spoon 🙂

These observations are obvious enough but there’s small things that hit me now such as when I made coffee in the morning and only seemed to find Espresso spoons in my mum’s kitchen drawer. Until she assured me that these are regular coffee spoons. They seem so incredibly tiny.

Photo Dec 20, 12 08 52 PM
1st floor, ground floor, upper level??!?

Or yesterday at the train station when a sign announced that the ticket office moved up to the 1st floor… which made me hunt around the ground floor (which of course in the U.S is the 1st floor). I’m confused here people!!

Well, at least there’s a few things that don’t change: Any Swiss bread is still as good as I remember it and thus is bread that deserves the name. It’s not as overly soft as toast. There’s no disturbing holes as they put them in bagels. A crusty-looking crust actually is crusty. And there’s so many variations that your eyes are in danger of going into overload. How wonderful!

Photo Dec 20, 12 59 43 PM
Casual cheese selection.

But my real first culinary highlight happened right away during our first breakfast on Saturday: I cut myself a piece of the first cheese available – and I couldn’t believe how creamy and flavorful it was… truly like music on my tongue!! Quite frankly: I think I’m in danger of reversing the impression that one only gains weight when staying in the U.S. 🙂

*The reason my better half is delighted about my confusion is that I finally understand his initial confusion when first arriving in Switzerland almost 10 years ago.

Resources & Sources

  • All photos and drawings by evozeta


Seit etwas über zwei Jahren lebe ich jetzt in den USA und seit meinem letzten Besuch in der Schweiz ist knapp ein Jahr vergangen und doch hat diese kurze Zeit bereits genügt, um mich zu amerikanisieren – zur Freude meiner besseren Hälfte.*

Bei unserer Ankunft in Zürich fielen mir die üblichen Sachen auf: Dass die Toilette das Wasser aus der Kloschüssel wirbelt anstatt es geräuschvoll rauszusaugen; die akribische Sauberkeit; die pünktlichen öffentlichen Verkehrsmittel und – überhaupt öffentliche Verkehrsmittel.

Diese Beobachtungen sind augenscheinlich genug, doch dann gibt es noch diese kleinen Dinge, die mir nun etwas fremd vorkommen wie wenn ich beispielsweise morgens Kaffee mache und in den Küchenschubladen meiner Mam lediglich Espresso-Löffelchen zu finden scheine. Bis sie mir versichert, das es sich dabei um ganz normale Teelöffel handelt. Sie scheinen mir einfach so unglaublich winzig.

Oder gestern, als ein Plakat im Bahnhof verkündete, dass der Billettschalter in den 1. Stock umgezogen sei… und ich mich daraufhin vergeblich im EG (was in den USA natürlich dem 1. Stock entspricht) nach den Schaltern umschaute. Leute, bin ich verwirrt!

Nun, es gibt immerhin einige Dinge, die sich nicht ändern: Jegliches Schweizer Brot ist noch immer so gut, wie ich es in Erinnerung habe und damit ein Brot, das den Namen auch verdient. Es ist nicht so übermässig weich wie Toastbrot. Es gibt keine beunruhigenden Löcher wie sie Bagels vorweisen. Wenn ein Brot knusprig aussieht, dann ist es auch knusprig. Und es gibt so viele leckere Varianten, dass deine Augen Gefahr laufen, überfordert zu werden. Wie wunderbar!

Doch mein erstes richtig kulinarisches Highlight hatte ich bereits beim ersten Frühstück am Samstag: Ich habe mir ein Stück vom ersten Käse, der mir in die Hände fiel, abgeschnitten – und konnte kaum glauben, wie cremig und geschmackvoll er war… wahrlich wie Musik auf meiner Zunge!! Ganz ehrlich: Ich glaube ich bin in Gefahr, das übliche Bild, dass man nur in den USA Gewicht zulegt, umzukehren 🙂

*Der Grund dafür, dass meine bessere Hälfte sich über meine plötzliche Verwirrung freut, liegt darin, dass ich nun endlich seine anfängliche Verwirrung bei seiner ersten Ankunft in der Schweiz vor fast 10 Jahren begreife.

Ressourcen & Quellen

  • Alle Fotos und Zeichnungen von evozeta


Berchtold’s Mysteries

Welcome to 2015!
Welcome to 2015!

I hope you all had a wonderful start into the New Year – Welcome to 2015! (Für Deutsch hier klicken)

The past two weeks have been a real gift to all working in Switzerland – the distribution of the work-free days within the week was as ideal as it can get: On Wednesday, December 24, working until noon or around 4 pm for it was Christmas Eve after all. Then off work on Christmas Day and Stephan’s Day. And voila, there’s the weekend. 4 ½ days out of 7 off work. And then the week after the same pattern again: Wednesday, December 31, is New Year’s Eve and with that another shortened work day, followed by New Year’s Day and Berchtold’s Day. What was that now, Berchtold’s Day? And who in the Lord’s name is this Bertie now?

Good question. Very good question. „Bertie’s Day“, as we call it in Switzerland, is a so called Allemannic holiday that spread through the Dukes of the Canton of Bern over to the Romandy, the French-speaking part of Switzerland. I have to admit – up to this day I had no idea who or what exactly is celebrated on Berchtold’s Day. I always assumed Bertie was a saint just like Stephen. The only thing that really mattered to me was, that Bertie’s Day on January 2nd, was a work-free holiday.

Duke Berchtold Von Zähringen
Duke Berchtold Von Zähringen

Now having gotten a little curious myself I went ahead and took at the Internet for all of us – and I have to say I’m no wiser than before. There are almost as many theories to the origins of Berchtold’s Day as there are leaves in the woods. I herewith elucidate some of them to you: According to folklorist sources the festival of Berchtold’s Day is based on the root word “berchten” which means “to walk around, asking for food”. Apparently, this was a common New Year’s custom all over the Alpine region. Other sources point to Blessed Berchtold of Engelberg abbey who died during Advent season around the year 1200 and who could have been important enough to have his feast translated out of Advent into the New Year. 1 The Swiss idioticon2 however, supports the theory that the name Berchtold’s Day derived from Middle High German “berhttac” or “berhteltac“, which translated the Greek “epiphanias”. Which in my view is a little doubtful for epiphany is celebrated on January 6 in Switzerland.

Though hardly anywhere observed as a work-free holiday, epiphany is still being celebrated all over Switzerland. Traditionally, a Three Kings cake is being served that consists of several sweet dough buns. One of the buns contains a hidden plastic King and whoever happens to choose the piece with the King in it becomes the King or Queen for the day.3

Traditional Swiss Three Kings Cake
Traditional Swiss Three Kings Cake

Even if no one is going to hand me a Three Kings cake this year it won’t stop me from feeling like a Queen for all the research I did for this blog post 🙂

Resources & Sources

  • Image Welcome to 2015 by evozeta
  • Photo Berchtold Von Zähringen by Wikipedia
  • Photo Three Kings Cake by Wikipedia
  • 1Theories Berchtoldstag from Wikipedia – validated 1/3/2015
  • 2Background Swiss idioticon from Wikipedia – validated 1/3/2015
  • 3Background Epiphany from Wikipedia – validated 1/3/2015

Berchtolds Mysterien

Ich hoffe, ihr alle hattet einen wundervollen Start ins neue Jahr – Willkommen im 2015!

Die vergangenen zwei Wochen waren ein wahres Geschenk für alle in der Schweiz arbeitstätigen – die Feiertage fielen so ideal, wie sie nur fallen können: Am Mittwoch, 24. Dezember, nur bis Mittag oder 16 Uhr arbeiten weil ja Heiligabend ist. Dann Weihnachten und Stephanstag frei. Und schon ist Wochenende. 4 1/2 von 7 Tagen frei. Und die Woche darauf wieder das gleiche: Mittwoch, 31. Dezember, war Silvester und damit wieder ein verkürzter Arbeitstag, gefolgt von Neujahr und Berchtoldstag. Wie jetzt, Berchtoldstag? Wer ist denn dieser Berti jetzt wieder?

Gute Frage. Sehr gute Frage. Der “Bärtalistag”, wie wir Luzerner den nennen, ist ein sogenannt Allemannischer Feiertag, der sich über die Herzöge im Kanton Bern auch ins Welschland, also die französische Schweiz, ausgebreitet hat. Ich muss ganz ehrlich zugeben – bis heute hatte ich keine Ahnung, wer oder was genau am Berchtoldstag gefeiert wird. Ich bin immer davon ausgegangen, dass Berti so ein Heiliger wie der Stephan ist. Wirklich wichtig für mich war bloss, dass der Bärtalistag, also der 2. Januar, ein arbeitsfreier Tag war.

Jetzt selber etwas neugierig geworden, habe ich entsprechend für uns alle einen Blick ins Internet geworfen – und bin ehrlich gesagt kein Stück gescheiter geworden. Es gibt beinahe so viele Theorien zum Ursprung des Berchtoldstags wie es Blätter im Wald gibt. Hier einige kurz erläutert: Volkskundlichem Hintergrund entsprechend geht der Berchtoldstag auf den Wortstamm des „Bechtens“ zurück, was soviel wie „umherlaufen und um Essen bitten“ bedeutet. Anscheinend handelte es sich dabei um einen im Alpenraum weit verbreiteten Neujahrsbrauchtum.1 Andere Quellen verweisen auf den Seligen Berchtold der Abtei Engelberg, der in der Adventszeit um das Jahr 1200 gestorben ist und dessen Todestag kurzerhand aus dem Advent ins neue Jahr verschoben wurde. Das Schweizerische Idiotikon2 hingegen sieht die Herführung des Namens Berchtoldstag vom Mittelhochdeutschen „berhttac„oder „berhteltac“, was das Griechische „epiphanias“ übersetzt. Was ich allerdings zu bezweifeln wage, wird doch Epiphany, oder eben der Dreikönigstag in der Schweiz am 6. Januar gefeiert.3

Zwar kaum noch als arbeitsfreier Feiertag begangen, wird der Dreikönigstag in der Schweiz trotzdem gefeiert. Traditionell wird ein Dreikönigskuchen serviert der aus diversen Süssteigkugeln besteht. In einer der Kugeln ist ein Plastikkönig versteckt und wer immer das Stück mit dem König auswählt, darf sich den ganzen Tag als König feiern lassen.4

Auch wenn mir dieses Jahr wohl kaum jemand einen Dreikönigskuchen reicht, so lasse ich es mir trotzdem nicht nehmen, mich für meine eingehende Recherche zu diesem Blog wie eine Königin zu fühlen 🙂

Ressourcen & Quellen

  • Bild Welcome to 2015 von evozeta
  • Foto Berchtold Von Zähringen von Wikipedia
  • Foto Dreikönigskuchen von Wikipedia
  • 1Hintergrund bechten von Feiertagskalender – überprüft am 3.1.2015
  • 2Hintergrund Schweizerisches Idiotikon von Wikipedia – überprüft am 3.1.2015
  • 3Weitere Theorien Berchtoldstag von Wikipedia – überprüft am 3.1.2015
  • 4Hintergrund Dreikönigstag von feiertage-schweiz.ch – überprüft am 3.1.2015