Snacking in Switzerland
A Facebook friend, Tamia Timberlake, curious about Swiss Culture, asked me to write a piece for her about Swiss snacks. So putting my experience as a longtime Swiss resident and some research, I came up with this piece on Swiss snacks.
I have been a resident of Basel, Switzerland since 1991. I am an ESL/EFL (English as a second/foreign language) teacher and have often had discussions with my students about “Swiss snacks” or just “snacks.” What I have learned over time from my students, who range in age from 18 to 80 plus, is that the Swiss are very health conscious and are very sporty. Any snacking that is done will be worked off sooner or later during the day. They are walkers and bikers because they are concerned about their environment. Old and young often go for long walks in the city or in the woods at the weekend. Somewhere along the route though, some snacks will be eaten.
The word “snack” in German is translated as “imbiss”, or “Zwischenmahlzeit” which means “between meals.” When I ask my students about “snacks” or “imbiss,” the majority say they eat fruit (apples, oranges, bananas are top runners) or yogourt.
Some would “fess up” to eating chocolate biscuits or chocolate. Chocolate is exported by Switzerland and the Swiss are one of the world’s top chocolate eaters. According to general statistics, the Swiss rank number among the top five.
In Switzerland and southwest Germany, coffee breaks, and the snacks that are eaten during that time, have special names.
They are“Znüni – Zvieri and Zwipf.” The first two come from the words for nine ("neun") and four ("vier") and denotes snacks eaten between meals around these times. "Butterbrot," an apple or just a coffee or tea is popular.
Specific snacks include a "Weggli und Schoggistängeli," meaning a type of roll in which a pencil -thick piece of chocolate is rolled.
Croissants are also popular and are called "Gipfeli," (a "Gipfel" is a mountain peak). Zwipf - shortened from "Zwischenverpflegungen." A Zwipf is a Swiss army jargon for the food eaten during breaks. It usually consists of tea or lemon water, granola bar, cookies or fruit .
Basler Läkerli is a biscuit from the Basel region where I live and can be eaten when having a cup of tea or coffee. It is a hard biscuit which also serves as a perfect souvenir. “Lecker” means delicious in German and “li” means little.
The spice biscuit is made of honey, hazelnuts, candied peel and kirsch (a cherry gin). The glazed biscuit is flat, hard and rectangular and was created by local spice merchants over 700 years ago
Other Swiss snacks which one might serve at small gathering are, a) various cheeses served with wine, grapes, walnuts, b) tarts, quiches (pies with crusty covering) c)ham filled croissants, d) small sliced breads topped with assorted meats, tuna, egg, asparagus, pickles, olives, etc., known as “Belegte brotli,” usually eaten in summer, e) cold meats and salamis and f) Pastete (pastry filled with paté).
|Cheese, onion, bacon and spinach tarts/pies.|
These are some of my personal favorite snacks which can also work well as a dinner depending on the size of a slice. Just make sure it is eaten with a large salad and not too late at night. I enjoy spicy or savory foods and not so much the sweet ones.
Pastete (pastry filled with paté).
In the towns and larger resorts, you will have no trouble finding chances to snack on the universal standbys of burgers, pizza slices, kebabs and falafels.
You’ll also find various different kinds of sausage (Wurst, saucisse, salsiccia) around the country served as chargrilled fast food in a warmed breadroll with mustard; the similarity with US-style hotdogs is purely cosmetic.
The most popular are pork Bratwürste, but you may also find smoked “Frankfurterli” and “Wienerli (types of hotdogs)”, Blutwurst made from black pudding (blood), and Leberwurst or liver sausage.
One seasonal treat, in late autumn and winter, are delicious and filling roast chestnuts (Marroni, marrons, marroni) sold by street vendors countrywide.
There are various trade fairs during the year, as well as the annual Autumn/Fall Fair, Christmas Market and Fastnacht (the annual carnival in February-March) when snacking is more prevalent.
|honey roasted almonds|
Some of the snacks to be eaten include a variety of sweets, chocolate covered fruit, honey roasted almonds, chüechi (cheese, spinach and mushroom tarts) pretzels, raclette, magenbrot, (a thick cookie that helps one’s digestion), pizza slices, waffles, flammkucken (which originates from the Alsatian region of France,) and a variety of sausages and bread.
All in all, there are quite a variety of things to snack on in Switzerland. There are times when more snacking is done and enjoyed than others. I enjoy all of them.
Just remember to take a long walk around the city and in the woods if too much snacking is done.
To read more about Swiss snacks follow the links below:
(c) October, 2013, Althea Romeo-Mark
Photographs (c) Althea Romeo-Mark