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Chuchi Schwitzer Dütsch (Swiss German Kitchen Vocabulary)

chichi, kitchen

If you are interested in a) all things kitchen, b) languages, c) Switzerland and / or d) traveling in general, chances are that you have heard the word “Chuchichäschtli”, the Swiss German term for “kitchen cabinet”.

Don’t worry if you are not able to pronounce it – yet. There’s countless other words you can practice with. They might be a bit shorter, a bit less twisted, maybe (maybe!) a bit less glutteral, but fun nevertheless.

Please note that the following collection whether is complete nor should be your single source. It simply is a list of  kitchen and food related terms common in the region and dialect I grew up in and with (and, to the delight of my kids, still am speaking after having lived abroad 20 years). It is a collection of words in “bärndütsch”, the language spoken in the Seeland region of Bern.

Have fun, enjoy, practice – and hopefully go use some of the words in pretty and tasty Switzerland at one point!

tempting pizza

aamächelig: inviting.

abchüele: to cool down.

abschmöcke: to season to taste.

Änischräbeli: A traditional Christmas cookie. Rock hard, bone white, shaped into little crescents, heavy in anise flavor.

swiss style mac & cheese

Äuplermaggrone: The Helvetic take on Mac & Cheese. Consisting of left over boiled potatoes, hollow pasta, well melting cheese and cream.

blodere: to boil.

Bluemchööli: Cauliflower.

chacheli

Chacheli: Bowl

chätsche: to chew.

Chegele: Chestnut.

kastanie, edible chestnut

chnätte: to knead.

Chnöfpli: Literally translated: Little buttons. A hand made pasta, for which the dough is cut into random pieces straight into the boiling water. Delicious with saucy meats or tomato sugo.

chöcherle: to lightly cook.

Chochhäntsche (or: Pfanneblätz): Oven glove.

Chrosle: Gooseberry.

chrüsch: crunchy, crusty.

crunchy texture

Chuechebläch: Baking sheet.

Chüeuschranktür: Fridge door.

Drü-Chünigs-Chueche: The Swiss contribution to the vast collection of Epiphamy pastries is a ring consisting of several small, sweet bread buns. The buns are decorated with coarse sugar crystals and in one of them hides, well, the king.

Düüri Bohne: Dehydrated grean beans. Even after soaking and cooking them, they remain wrinkled and concentrated in flavor.

Swiss version of Empanada, meat filled hand pies

Fleischchräpfli: The Swiss version of Empanadas. Handpies filled with ground beef.

Fotzuschnitte: Slices of bread drenched in milk, then egg mixture, and baked in a skillet. Often dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with apple compote. Comparable to French Toast.

füürheiss: hot as fire.

hot as fire

Ghüderchessu: Trash bin.

Griesspfluute: Sweet version of Grits. The Swiss sweeten theirs with sugar and serve it with a plum (or other fruit) compote.

gruusig: disgusting, gross.

Guguhupf: Bundt cake, yeast based.

Härdöpfutätschli: Fritters made of left over mashed potatoes, pan baked.

Hörnli und Ghackets: A simple, traditional peasant dish. Elbow Macaroni with ground beef and its juice.

Hundeli: Literally: Little dog. Cervelats with their ends cut crosswise, about 2 inches deep. When cooked, the ends will separate and make the sausage look like a dog (in case you have enough imagination.)

iifüue: to fill.

Iigmachts: Preserves (sweet or savory).

preserved cheese

lääi: luke warm.

Löcherbecki: Colander.

Meertrübelischlee: Red currant jelly.

Metzgete: The “slaughtery”. It describes a party held at a restaurant or farmhouse in the fall, when all harvests are done and some animals just have been slaughtered. Classically served are ham, bacon, blood and liver sausages, roesti and apple sauce.

Miuchcaffe: Old time “latte”. Combination of (about) half hot coffee and half steamed milk.

Miuchchanne: Milk vat (made of metal).

milk vats

Panierti Plätzli: Thin, breaded pork cutlets. A cheaper version of the Wiener Schnitzel.

panierti platzli

Pfanneribu: Sponge

pfluderig: mushy.

rüehre: to stir.

rüschte: to peel.

schnätzle: to chop.

schprützig: prickly.

Schüttubächer: Mixing jar.

süüferli blöderle: to carefully boil.

sauerkraut

Suurchabis: Sauerkraut (or: Fermented white cabbage).

Täfeli: Candy.

Teigtrööler: Rolling pin.

tünke: to dunk.

verbrösmele: to crumb up.

vermodere: to rot.

Wurscht-Chäs-Salat: A classic, rustic salad prepared of Cervelat slices and cubes of hard cheese (often Appenzeller). There can be onions, pickles, tomatoes, etc. added. Summer fare.

zääi: tough.

Zapfezieier: Cork screw.

Zigerschtöckli: A truly one of a kind cheese produced in one single dairy. It is made of whey, a secret mix of dried and powdered herbs, aged eight months and shaped into a little cylinder (to which the term “schtöckli” refers). Ziger comes in a light green hue, is mighty sharp and usually grated on or into foods.

Zuegge: Spout

spout, zuegge

(Homage to Japan, #2) When Renunciation results in Brilliance

 

buckwheat harvester

Eating out in Japan lets one realize – in the tastiest way possible – that limitation does not have to lead into dreariness, and renunciation indeed can result in pure brilliance.

There are no “something for everyone” restaurants in Japan. You won’t find a place that serves both sushi and noodles, or nabe and bbq, or curry plus pizza, for that matter. Restaurants focus on one type of food (preparation). So if you are in the mood for table side cooked food you will go to a place where each guest sits in front of an individual little wood burning oven and combines, cooks, mixes and matches his or her foods at each’s own pace. And every one around you will do the very same. If you step into a Teppan Yaki house, each single guest in there will be eating Teppan Yaki as well. The only menu handed out usually is the list of drinks.

soba broth, assembled

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(Homage to Japan, # 1) The Ten Commandments

another world

“By the time you read this, I will be across the big pond.” This is how my very last post on this blog started, many months ago.

So by the time you are reading this, I have just arrived back home, from yet another big trip  across another big pond, and in the opposite direction than that time before. I spent the past two weeks in Japan, a place I first had visited and fallen in love with 25 years ago. This recent trip showed up on my horizon fast, furious and completely unexpected, and of course I was not just beyond excited but mighty curious about how things would be different now, or how not. (Just a hint: They are even better now than what I remembered them from back then. Seriously. Japan is stunningly clean, has beauty and art everywhere, is easily and totally safely accessible, and full of friendly folks. About the food, that glorious food, I will talk – many times on this blog – later.)

soba lunch

This post is the beginning of “Homage to Japan”, a series on Japan and its food, traditions and specialties. The articles will be served in tiny portions or multiple courses, as a one-pot-affair or an elaborate, staged story. Just like the Japanese cuisine shows up on the table, basically, depending on where and what you chose to eat that day. I will weave in other, non Nippon posts, now that I am happily back to blogging again, but please be prepared for some steady and pleasant rains of recounts from the “Land of the Rising Sun”.

As a starter, today, i am presenting you “The Ten Commandments”. This is a simple but functional list of restaurant and food related habits, tips and rules I observed and learned by eating, well… lots of foods in lots of different places (to say the least). Look at it as a pocket sized, basic but practical guide to make most of eating out in tasty Japan. Itadakimas! (Bon appétit!)

seafood bowl Continue reading “(Homage to Japan, # 1) The Ten Commandments” »

Swiss Kiss #7 – Älpler-Maggronen (alpine style Pasta)

mac n' cheese on steroids

Älpler the people who, seasonally, work high up in the Alps. Farmers, shepherds, folks that during about 100 days in the summer move accept to leave civilization behind them – often also their families – and go tend to the rough and steep land on 5000 feet elevation or higher, and to the animals they bring, to keep the meadows healthy and profitable. They milk, fix huts, make cheese, repair fences, jump in as vets if an animal needs one. They are all rounders, every single day, all summer long. There’s less romance involved in the life of an Älpler than most outsiders imagine. But much more hunger.

Älpler-Maggronen – “the alpine farmer’s Maccaroni” – are Mac n’ Cheese on steroids. Besides the pasta and (true, real, high quality) cheese they also contain potato, onion and cream. They are traditional to the inner Switzerland region – mainly the Uri, Nidwalden and Schwyz cantons. While transhumance – the seasonal move of people and animals to different areas – has been done in many, many centuries, the Älpler-Maggronen came to life less than 150 years ago.

Around 1882, to be exact, when the massive tunnel underneath the Gotthard mountain was built, in order to connect central Switzerland with the southern part, Ticino, and Italy. The Swiss liked the pasta the Italian construction workers brought along, and they quickly realized that they not only were nutritious, but light and robust enough to be easily transported up to the mountains, and that they had an excellent shelf life. The farmers combined the pasta with what was readily available and would keep them full for a good while.

mise for swiss version of mac and cheese

Nowadays the dish is served in all German speaking regions of Switzerland (so mostly in the north and north eastern part of the country). Some people like to add bacon or ham cubes, some serve apple compote with it, others top the robust mixture with caramelized onions. And some even put the mix in the oven until the top forms a crust. (That is Swiss democracy in food, I guess.)

The chives, although quantity wise the most minuscule of all ingredients, play an interesting role in this dish. While most people tend to consider them as garnish or momentary trend – comparable to the leaf of parsley that for decades adorned every daily special of each Swiss train station restaurant – the chive in Älper-Maggronen has its exact reason. Wild chive is a very common alpine herb and therefore used when ever possible. It adds freshness, color, nutrients and zing to any dish. And makes Älpler-Maggronen a perfectly complete meal. What else would one want?

aelpler maggronen, in bowl, ready

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No Rules Fish & Seafood Soup

Fish & Seafood Soup in the bowlThere’s six people, five males, four persons who drive, three different schools, two parents and one bunny who rule this house. There’s also countless passions, many tasks, several jobs, few clubs and one business that influence all of us and our lives together daily. In relation to our meals – around which not only my thoughts and dreams usually float around here – this often translates into suppers that can be served in stages and taste as great at 10pm, when the last one comes home, as they did four hours earlier, when the first one sat down to eat.

One of our favorite such dishes has turned out to be a Fish & Seafood Soup. It is flexible and a little different, yet vibrant and rich in flavors each time, and most every time we serve it, at least one of us claims that it never has tasted as good as in the current version. Not following any set rules keeps this dish interesting and perhaps even is the main reason that we never get tired of it.

The instant we decide that dinner will be “The Soup”, as we refer to it, we immediately also agree if it will be “the clear” or “the tomato” one. The latter one contains tomato paste and fresh or canned tomatoes, and it is the one we usually prefer. (Unless there is a specific ingredient we want to incorporate and highlight, like we once did with saffron.) Fish and seafood wise we often choose fresh product that is quick to handle (shrimp, fish fillet, etc.) and, I admit, I admit, retreat to the monger’s frozen case for the items that require more elaborate prep (and he already has done for us – mussels, clams, octopus, etc. Hey, it’s an anti hectic dish, after all). Any combination of creatures has proven to be possible and delicious here, really. As for the vegetables, we like to add chopped onions and garlic, cut up a few potatoes, sometimes peppers, fennel or leeks. Herbs, fresh or dried ones in the form of a bouquet garni, usually are part of the mix as well. As is broth and, always, a little wine (white or red, depending on what’s on hand. Or what we are trying to find an excuse to open for…)

Besides the fact that it is simple and satisfying, doesn’t cause much prep nor clean up work and tastes even better when reheated a day or two later (please, make a mental note that there never is too much of it), “The Soup” offers one more very pleasant aspect: The longer it cooks, the better it tastes – and the longer and more deliciously it smells. The flavors just seem to melt into each other, deeper and deeper. The texture becomes smoother, thicker, more soothing, the chunks turn more tender over time. So don’t even try to stay under six hours! On the other hand, you can leave this soup on the stove for a whole day without having to worry about it. As long as the happy party gets a stir every hour or so, it will behave very well. – And so will the ones who sit down to supper that night. No matter how many there are.

eating the fish & seafood soup

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