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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, # 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” »

Crazy Foods

liquid, flavored salts

Maybe I should have chosen a title like “The Anatomy of Foods from A – Z” for this post. Or “What today’s Foods tell us about the Foods of the Future”. Both of these lines might have been more informative and accurate. But they both also sounded really, really boring to me. That’s why I stuck with my initial idea, “Crazy Foods”.

Crazy is not just crazy, I like to point out. There’s good crazy and bad crazy. Amazing crazy, wild crazy, surprising crazy, scary crazy and even crazy crazy. Projected onto food, crazy can mean sickening as well as healing or health supporting. Easy as well as complicated, natural as well as artificial, wholesome as well as invading. Crazy suggests progression and evolution, crazy foods are more debatable, less normal and more interesting than just foods.

beautiful packaging for cookies

Crazy is fascinating, and so was the totally overwhelming array of foods I saw during my recent days at SIAL in Paris. The “Salon International d’Alimentation” is a bi yearly food show that celebrated its 50est anniversary this year. 12’500 exhibitors from 100 different countries showed their countless products to somewhat around 300 000 visitors from 200 countries. – If you imagine a zoo, now, you perfectly got the concept (and will understand the choice of my title): A Food Show of this extent indeed is a zoo, although one of delectable nature. And, of course, highly interesting for everybody interested in food, nutrition and hedonism.

So let me share with you a bunch of ideas, products, packagings, trends, novelties and renaissances I encountered while walking the sacred halls of food in Paris. I hope you enjoy. And go crazy for food, once again! Continue reading “Crazy Foods” »

Have a Crush!

herb pesto without basilNo basil? No worries! You still can prepare and enjoy pesto. The classic and ubiquitous recipe from Genova, a busy port town on the Ligurian coast of Italy, calls for basil (plus olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and finely grated, aged cheese) in its cold sauce. But pesto – meaning “crushed” or “pounded” in Italian – can be made of any fresh herbs, really.

So when I received more mixed herbs from a farmer friend recently that fit into my fridge, no kidding, I decided to preserve them in the form of pesto (which I prefer so much more than dried herbs). I took out my food processor, gave it a long and grateful look, cut the garlic chive, vietnamese coriander, parsley and lemon thyme into about two inch long pieces, peeled plenty of garlic and grated a good amount of Paglierina, a wonderfully well balanced sheep milk cheese from Italy. And into the groove we went, my food processor and me: I poured some oil, added some greens, garlic and cheese, and in barely any time the mighty machine worked it down into a smooth, luscious paste. More oil, more solids. Out of the bowl the pesto went with the help of a spatula, into  a very large pan, so that there was space for the next batch. On and on, until those pounds of herbs all were turned into thick, concentrated sauce – and ready for a long, long life around many happy eaters.

triple cream brie cheese sandwich with pesto

jars full of herb pesto

Don’t stop thinking outside the box once the ingredients of your pesto are chosen. Do the same when it comes to its application. Of course pestos are great on pasta. But they can do so much more! They perk up any kind of sandwich. They make for big eyes and surprised “aahhh’s” as the base layer of savory tarts. They hide in the middle of a horizontally cut wheel of Brie and, once discovered, turn out to be the star of the show. Pestos can be added to salad dressings. They bring zing to tomato based pasta sauces. Or to pizza. A little dollop of pesto does not only make a polenta look better, but also taste richer. Same with boiled, baked or fried potatoes. Fish adores pesto. Soup, anyone? It too, loves your pesto. Oh, and if you dress your favorite nuts in some pesto and then bake them shortly, your guests will love you – and your drinks will taste so much better.

So, yes. Have a crush! It is so delightful. Even the unorthodox way.

pasta al pesto

Pictures at a Fridge #4 – Sartre, De Beauvoir

Philosophers and authors Sartre and De BeauvoirI have adored Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir since my teens. Back then, they were my proof that intelligence and independence could very well be combined with respect and love. That it was ok to criticize, as long as it happened in a constructive way. The couple reflected the unusual, the revolutionary and the individuality we all so longed for at the time.

After the way too early dead of my beloved grand father, just after I had turned twenty, the picture became important in a different way. Gra, as I used to call him, always had reminded me of Sartre. (Or vice versa.) With their short frames, the button like eyes behind thick glasses, something puffy and soft looking in both faces, and barely a moment without a cigarette or pipe in their mouths or hands, the visual similarity was quite obvious. In addition, my grand father also was French.

But it is Gra’s fearless way of living life to the fullest, of making no compromises for ideas, situations or people he could not stand 100% behind, that I started to see and feel in this photograph. His limitless abundance, in any aspect of life, and especially when it came to his family, his wife and his biggest passion: Food.

My grandfather was a simple but smart man who owned a little grocery store. That meant long days of hard, physical work, but – in his way of looking at life – also friendships (and way too much wine, shared with customers in the little back room). He was not a rich man, financially spoken, by any means. He bought a car when most families already were used to having one. When he surprised his seven kids with a TV, they already knew the shows from watching them in other peoples houses. His four daughters slept in one room, sharing two beds. And the three boys had the other room and two beds.

Yet, they always ate well. There were fresh Chnöpfli (hand cut, thick pasta) with long cooked stew and rich gravy on the weekends. Fondue for supper on cold Saturday nights. Sometimes roasted chestnuts as an appetizer. My grand mothers polenta was famous in the neighborhood and always made for three entire meals. From the little garden, they picked all kinds of vegetables and herbs which they, often as a husband and wife team, transformed into wonderful Ratatouille, soups and tarts. They had peach and Mirabelle and plum trees, from which they made more tarts, and rows of preserves.

I remember the barrel of wine and blood in the basement, in which during the fall, deer would marinate and smell up the damp room. Or our Sunday pick nicks along the Doubs river, where Gra and all the Dads and grandchildren catched (or tried to catch) trouts that we then cooked in foil and ate with pride and joy. Every year, on Sunday before Easter, he packed all his 15 grandchildren into his VW Bus and drove us to Gruyère. There, we picked flowers for several hours and tied them into bouquets, until all the buckets he had brought were filled. After that, he took us for the Meringues, strawberries and sweet cream this little town is so famous for. It was in his back yard or kitchen, depending on the weather, where all my cousins and myself – under the strict exclusion of our mothers – was allowed to taste their first sips of wine.

When Gra was seriously ill and weak, and knew that the end was close, he invited his wife to go eat Bouillabaisse. In Marseilles! He had bought two train tickets, and off they went, to enjoy his favorite meal, one last time, in one of his favorite places, with the absolute favorite person in his life.

I adore Sartre for his intelligence, brilliance and visions. And for his respect towards his partner, Simone de Beauvoir, and women in general. (An attitude Gra totally shared with him.) – And I adore my grand father for his guts, for not just living, but celebrating life every single day. My deep, deep love both for Gra and for food are directly related. And make my life richer. Every single day…