Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Snacking in Switzerland

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 areZnüni – 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. 

marroni (chestnuts)

One seasonal treat, in late autumn and winter, are delicious and filling roast chestnuts (Marroni, marrons, marroni) sold by street vendors countrywide.

Messe/Fairs/Fasnacht/Christmas Market

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:


1.     http://www.sfu.ca/geog351fall03/groups-webpages/gp8/consum/consum.html

  1. http://www.exportsolutions.com/ExportTipsDetails.aspx?id=74&title=Fun

(c) October, 2013,  Althea Romeo-Mark
Photographs (c) Althea Romeo-Mark

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Now “Massa” Loved Some Hunting: Thoughts on visiting a Georgian Plantations

Now “Massa” Loved Some Hunting.
(Thoughts on visiting a Georgian Plantation)

While visiting a Georgian plantation
I am told by the guide
that husbands and wives
slept in separate rooms
so husbands would not have to
wake wives at five in the morning
as they make ready to go hunting,
and I am thinking
“Massa” may not be out hunting at all.

The bed is so narrow and high,
you need a ladder to get onto it.
How could a child
be conceived in such discomfort?
“Massa” would rather sneak into
the slaves’ quarters and
drag a female slave
to the barn or bush
and “have his way with her.”

That is the story of many
of our great-great grandmothers
who brought “colored” babies
into the world. 


Caribbean “Bokrahs,” too, said
they were out hunting mongoose
or inspecting the fence of
their vast sugar-cane plantations.

There weren’t many
 trapped vermin to show
and the number of
“mulatto” babies spiraled.

The Bokrahs’ wives knew
their husbands weren’t out hunting
and took revenge on the “baby-mamas.”
How many times were those slave-women
on potty-duty? They counted chamber pots
in their sleep instead of sheep—if they slept at all.

Bokrahs loved to hunt
and their wives dared not
interfere with their favorite sport .


I am a descendant of
hunter and  hunted.
There are numerous shades
of brown named after us.

We betray each other,
deny our darker brethren their dignity,
define them by menial labor
they cannot refuse.

We constrain and imprison them
with draconian laws that give license
to hunt in all seasons.
But they are strong like the mahogany,
weaned on the steeling of backbones.


© Althea Romeo-Mark, 09.02.14

1.     “Massa” = Master.
2.     “bokrah, bokra= white land owner in the Colonial Caribbean.

Pebble Hill Plantation is located in Thomasville, Georgia.  It houses the Elisabeth Ireland Poe Gallery.
elisabeth ireland poe gallery
Nancy Ireland Stahl, PHP Board of Trustees member, and her husband William W. Stahl have long envisioned a gallery that would appropriately showcase the excellent Sporting Art collected by Elisabeth (Pansy) Ireland Poe. Nancy and Bill shared their inspiring vision with fellow board members and the Pebble Hill professional staff, and today the vision is a reality. The second floor of the Main House has been renovated into a world class art gallery and an appropriate showcase for one of the country’s finest Sporting Art collections.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Proud to be part of Poems For The Hazara Anthology

I am one of the poets who contributed to Poems for the Hazara: A Multilingual Poetry Anthology and Collaborative Poem by 125 Poets from 68 Countries by Kamran Mir Hazar (Jan 23, 2014)

The poets include Nobel, Pulitzer, continental and national literary prize winners as well as presidents of international poetry festivals, presidents of PEN clubs, and writers associations from 97 countries.

I have highlighed fellow Caribbean poets.

The poets who contributed to the anthology  represent world poetry today: Etnairis Ribera, Puerto Rico/ Angelina Llongueras, Catalonia/ Aju Mukhopadhyay, Pondicherry, India/ Ban'ya Natsuishi, Japan/ Julio Pavanetti, Uruguay/Spain/ Gertrude Fester, Rwanda and South Africa / Jack Hirschman, USA / Iztok Osojnik, Slovenia/ Erling Kittelsen, Norway/ Obediah Michael Smith, Bahamas/ Bina Sarkar Ellias, India/ Raúl Henao, Colombia/ Anne Waldman, USA/ Nguyen Quang Thieu, Vietnam/ Timo Berger, Germany/ Elsa Tió, Puerto Rico/ Kamran Mir Hazar, Hazaristan/ Rodrigo Verdugo, Chile/ Mildred Kiconco Barya, Uganda/ Stefaan Van Den Bremt, Flanders, Belgium/ Winston Morales Chavarro, Colombia/ Esteban Valdés Arzate, Mexico/ Akwasi Aidoo, Ghana and USA/ Yolanda Pantin, Venezuela/ Yiorgos Chouliaras, Greece/ James O'hara, Mexico, USA and Ireland/ Raquel Chalfi, Israel/ Jim Byron, USA/ Luisa Vicioso Sánchez, Dominican Republic/ Andrea Garbin, Italy/ Luz Helena Cordero Villamizar, Colombia/ Peter Voelker, Germany/ Zoran Anchevski, Macedonia/ Naotaka Uematsu, Japan/ Paul Disnard, Colombia/ VyacheslavKupriyanov, Russia/ Gabriel Rosenstock, Ireland/ Maruja Vieira, Colombia/ Nyein Way, Myanmar/ Gaston Bellemare, Québec/ Zohra Hamid, South Africa/ Amir Or, Israel/ Ivan Djeparoski, Macedonia/ Attila F. Balázs, Slovakia/ Ioana Trica, Romania/ Michaël Glück, France/ Quito Nicolaas, The Netherlands/ Noria Adel, Algeria/ Francisco Sánchez Jiménez, Colombia/ Werewere Liking, Cameroon and Ivory Coast/ Beppe Costa, Italy/ William Pérez Vega, Puerto Rico/ Fanny Moreno, Colombia/ John Curl, USA/ Kevin Kiely, Ireland/ Azam Abidov, Uzbekistan/ Luis Galar (No Country)/ Santiago B. Villafania, Philippines/ Althea Romeo-Mark, Antigua/ Bengt Berg, Sweden/ Luz Lescure, Panama/ Lola Koundakjian, Armenia/ Zindzi Mandela, South Africa/ Edvino Ugolini, Italy/ Jean-Claude Awono, Cameroon/ Stefania Battistella, Italy/ Eugenia Sánchez Nieto, Colombia/ Alina Beatrice Chesca, Romania/ Simón Zavala Guzmán, Ecuador/ Ostap Nozhak, Ukraine/ Berry Heart, Botswana/ Gilma De Los Ríos, Colombia/ Laura Hernandez Muñoz, México/ Mamang Dai, India/ Erkut Tokman, Turkey/ Álvaro Miranda, Colombia/ Claus Ankersen, Denmark/ Mark Lipman, USA/ John Hegley, England/ Micere Githae Mugo, Kenya/ Germain Droogenbroodt, Belgium and Spain/ Fiyinfoluwa Onarinde, Nigeria/ Ataol Behramoğlu, Turkey/ Khal Torabully, Mauritius and France/ Jorge Boccanera, Argentina/ Kamanda Kama Sywor, Congo/ Bineesh Puthuppanam, India/ Iris Miranda, Puerto Rico/ Pamela Ateka, Kenya/ Fahredin Shehu, Kosovo/ Tamer Öncul, Cyprus/ Tânia Tomé, Mozambique/ Howard A. Fergus, Montserrat, West Indies/ Janak Sapkota, Nepal/ Károly Fellinger, Hungary/ Alfred Tembo, Zambia/ Emilce Strucchi, Argentina/ Juan Diego Tamayo, Colombia/ Manuel Silva Acevedo, Chile/ Elias Letelier, Chile/ Mohammed Bennis, Morocco / Károly Sándor Pallai, Hungary/ Edgardo Nieves-Mieles, Puerto Rico/ Fatoumata Ba, Mali/ Vupenyu Otis Zvoushe, Zimbabwe/ Santosh Alex, India/ Silvana Berki, Albania and Finland/ Hussein Habasch, Kurdistan, Syria/ Lucy Cristina Chau, Panamá/ Jessie Kleemann, Greenland/ Siki Dlanga, South Africa/ Irena Matijašević, Croatia/ Boel Schenlaer, Sweden/ Merlie M. Alunan, Philippines/ Ernesto P. Santiago, Philippines/ Rassool Snyman, South Africa/ Mary Smith, Scotland/ K. Satchidanandan, India/ Sukrita Paul Kumar, India/ Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Iceland/ Zelma White, Montserrat, BWI/ Navkirat Sodhi, India/ Gémino H. Abad, Philippines/ Mbizo Chirasha, Zimbabwe/ Joyce Ashuntantang, Cameroon and USA

Here is the poem I contributed;

The Forsaken
(A collaborative poem for the Hazara people)

We have dared to be “the other”.
Outcasts in your eyes,
we threaten your world.
Your words are burning spears
seeking to pierce our armor.

Strength and wisdom repel
the weakening of faith and culture,
steel us against your witch-hunt,
steel us against the screams for our demise.

We seek respite, seek a haven
from the relentless hunt of our people.
We are not charlatans and terrorists.

We cannot return across rivers,
to crumbling villages,
cannot return to the scenes
of the cross-fired dead
and a burial of diseased animals.
That is an anathema.

We are Hazara! 
We, too, are God’s children.

© Althea Romeo-Mark

For information about the Hazaza:http://www.hazarapeople.com/

The anthology can be purchased by clicking on the following link.