Swiss cuisine – a rich palette of flavors and aromas
The use of spices for additional flavoring depends to a large extent on the culinary traditions of the region, which create long-lasting taste preferences in people.
In some places the local communities grow special varieties of the well-known spices that are specific only for this area. This is especially true for Switzerland, where different ethnic groups live /mainly Italians, French and Germans/, who have brought, preserved and developed the numerous features of the respective national cooking.
The steep mountainous relief contributes to the closed and conservative nature of the regions of Switzerland, including in terms of culinary. Of course, also very important are the individual preferences that are formed for years by the numerous factors beyond the regular culinary practices characteristic of the region.
So there are numerous Swiss spices for various types of dishes and in their different regional variations, and the Swiss cuisine is a rich palette of flavors and aromas of specific soups, dishes, sausages and desserts. They can vary considerably even by the main ingredients. Fondue, for example, the most popular dish that has come out of the borders of Switzerland, which is popular all around the world, in its classic version includes cheeses melted in white wine.
But in some places in Switzerland:
- Wine is traditionally replaced with water, while in other places with tomato paste
- Fish or meat is used instead of cheese
- In oil or vegetable broth
- There is also a chocolate fondue.
All this significantly changes the spices used. Furthermore, besides giving incredible taste, these spices have healing properties.
Healthy spices for classic Fondue
For the classic Fondue, made from white wine and cheese, there are different Swiss spices. These include garlic, nutmeg, charlotte onion, powdered cardamom, red „cayenne” pepper, which is obtained by mixing powdered hot pepper, rosemary and so on.
GARLIC is a must for classic Fondue – the bottom and walls of the pot in which the dish will be prepared are smeared with it. The intense hot taste and aroma of the garlic are softened in the process of cooking but they give a spicy note to the dish.
The healing properties of the garlic are well-known, as its useful ingredients are over 400, and it also contain antioxidants. It contains nitrogenous substances, magnesium sodium, calcium, vitamins C, D, B, and some acids. Garlic has antibacterial properties, it is good for digestion, decreases the blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, and prevents the development of cancerous cells.
The nutmeg also has a number of healing properties. It contain manganese, which has a role in blood clotting, metabolism of carbohydrates, regulation of blood sugar, formation of tissues, sex hormones, etc. It also contains potassium that helps to normalize blood pressure and heart rhythm, vitamins of the B group, vitamins C, A and so on.
The charlotte onion is like normal onion, but it has a richer flavor and aroma. It contains calcium, potassium, magnesium, selenium, iron, phosphorus, vitamins. It is recommended for visual and stomach problems, it has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant effect, and so on.
Cardamom belongs to the family of ginger plants, and it is a hot spice with strong and specific taste and aroma, therefore it is used in small amounts. It contains iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and vitamins of the B group. It is useful for sore throat, stomach pain, migraines, lung problems, gallstones or kidney stones.
Cayenne – red pepper is useful against colds, flu, candida, as well as it promotes good digestion, activates blood circulation and neutralizes the acidity in the organism. it is also used against nausea and gasses, diarrhea, cough, paralysis, gout, high temperature, as anti-inflammatory measure and so on.
Rosemary is also a herb that is used for dish seasoning, but it also has number of healing properties. This plant contains antioxidant and antibacterial acid, as well as essential oils with antiseptic, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Its frequent use improves the memory.
Spices for Raclette
Raclette is another very popular Swiss dish based on melted cheese. In fact, the very name of the dish comes from the special type of Raclette cheese. It is semi-hard, with strong aroma, and the flavor – nutty and soft. Actually in the raw form, the smell of this cheese is not very pleasant /mildly said/, but after melting it transforms into a nice, delicious aroma.
For enrichment of the tastes and flavors obtained from the main products used, we can combine, for example, blue cheese, gruyere, emmental, mature cheese.
Melting /baking/ can be done on open fire or on a special device, something like a small grill or small stove, on which the cheese can be melted, as well as you can bake peppers, sausages, onion rings. The prepared cheese is removed with wooden spatula from the walls of the device and then it is served. It can be smeared on cooked potatoes, bread, it also goes well with pickles, prosciutto, bacon, dried meat and ham. The used spices include garlic, red pepper, thinly sliced onion /red/, parsley and thyme. These spices are also very healthy just like those used for fondue.
In addition to flavoring, red onion also has a number of beneficial properties. They manifest when slicing the onion. They cause tears that are a result of a special compound contained in the onion, they cleanse the ocular epithelial layer. The manganese in onion provides the anti-inflammatory properties of the vegetable, it brings relief in case of cold and flu. In addition, onion contains vitamin C and vitamin В6, calcium, folic acid and iron.
Enzymes that are useful against cancer and diabetes activate upon slicing, as well as they dilate the blood vessels. This is beneficial for blood pressure, it is good against thrombus formation, and reduces the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.
Thyme, in turn, contains various antioxidants that are useful for cleansing the body from free radicals, as well as antimicribial ingredient, which is effective against viruses, bacteria, parasites and candida. These properties make it useful for mouth hygiene, as well as for respiratory diseases, flue and colds.
For centuries parsley has been used both as spice and as a healing herb. It was considered a sacred herb in Ancient Greece. Nowadays it is well-known that it contains a number of minerals and vitamins, required for the organism. 20 grams of parsley, for exampe, contains the dose of Vitamin C required for the day. Moreover, it also contains vitamin В1, vitamin В2, iron, carotene and so on. The regular consumption of parsley protects from cardiac diseases, bronchitis, asthma, depression and so on.
Spices for soups
The Swiss have a variety of soups – with meat, fish, vegetables that are specific for the individual regions.
For example, soups in which the flour is basic component, can be with rye or wheat flour, and in the areas inhabited by the French, the corn flour is more common. In general, however, in order for a dish to have more intense flavor, the flour should be fried, as the variations include milk, bacon, vegetables, etc.
The thick soup with potatoes and leeks is very interesting, as the vegetables are stewed in cream, and the basic ingredient is a special sausage of minced pork mat and cabbage. The soup is “the trademark” of the Vaud municipality in the canton of Bern. The sausage, however, is also a trademark of another region, in which there is a special celebration day in October, which is dedicated to the soup, although it comes from another region.
The spices used for soups are also many. Typically, they include onion, parsley, cumin, black pepper and others that have been already mentioned. There is a traditional spice that is used by the Swiss for seasoning and flavoring of the soups called bay leaf, which also has healing properties.
The bay leaf is very useful for detox of the organism, it protects the body against infections, reduces inflammations, helps to manage diabetes, improves cardiac activity and digestion. Last but not least, bay leaf helps to reduce stress and anxiety, as it decreases the level of stress hormones in the organism.