Food Origins: Swiss CheeseFebruary 14, 2014 by Roger Leemann
In Switzerland, cheese is a staple, and the word “staple” in this usage is closer to meaning “necessary for survival.” All cultures have food staples, and the reason behind making cheese is easy to guess. Spend one hungry winter in the Alps with nothing to eat and you will find yourself thinking ahead and preparing for the next winter.
As you know, there are many cheeses from Switzerland and they are all names for their point of origin. Just like French Wines, the cheeses produced in Switzerland bear the name of their geographic origin; Emmental cheese comes from the Emmental Valley, Gruyere cheese comes from the Gruyere Valley. Each canton (state) in Switzerland has its own unique variety. Here are some interesting facts about cheeses produced in Switzerland:
- Named for the point of origin
- Consistency of the cheese is based on many things:
— Milk is produced from cows only in the point of origin.
— The amount of milk that can be shipped from the farm to cheesemaker is regulated to ensure smaller, more frequent loads and therefore fresher milk.
- The aging processes are also greatly regulated to ensure that the cheese adheres to its “namesake” year after year.
- And, as you can imagine, there is local and federal oversight on the entire production, labeling and distribution process.
Cheese Fondue: (serves 4)
- 1 cup (250 mL) dry white wine
- 1 pound (450 g) shredded Emmental cheese
- 1 pound (450 g) shredded Gruyere cheese
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) Kirschwasser (Cherry Brandy)
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) cornstarch
- Pinch of Salt and Nutmeg
- 2 French Baguettes, cut into 1 inch cubes with crust on each cube
Simmer wine in fondue pot. On Medium Low Heat, Add cheeses, 1/4 pound at a time. Stir after each addition until melted. When all the cheese has melted, stir in salt and nutmeg. Mix cornstarch and kirschwasser together and stir into melted cheese. Serve with cut up “Crusty” French bread, Broccoli, Cauliflower and condiments of Olives and Pickles.
- Tradition states to drink wine with this meal, as the alcohol will help the digestion of the cheese.
- Crusty Bread is best, and if you cut your cubes ahead of time, allow them a couple of hours to dry out which will help them stay on your fondue fork.
- “Dip with the fork” but do not eat from the fork. Proper etiquette includes no double dipping.
- Fondue is a “Social Meal”. If a male loses his bread into the fondue, he will buy the next round; if a female loses her bread from her fork into the fondue then she must kiss her neighbor.
- Have fun with the meal, experiment with different ingredients and “rules of engagement”.