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Swiss food is not the first reason to come to Switzerland. Hearty dishes come from the country agricultural background, with many made from cheese. Fondue is basically melted cheese in a boiling casserole in which you dip pieces of bread with a long fork. Everybody shares the same pot in this solid dish. Raclette used to be a shepherd’s dish and is prepared by melting the side of a cut cheese (about 5 kg) on an oven. Each guest eats a cut of melted cheese in turn with potatoes and pickles until he has eaten his fill. Adding salt or mustard is a no-no and experienced raclette eaters always taste the cheese before adding pepper.
The paragon dish of Swiss German-speaking Switzerland is the rösti (pronounced rush-T), roasted potatoes with cheese or bacon on top. When choosing a restaurant, always ask a local for advice or look in a knowledgeable guidebook. Picking the first restaurant you find is a sure way to eat an overpriced and dull meal.
If you are in Western Switzerland, it is often worth crossing the border and eating in a French restaurant: prices in France are about 40% lower and the food is usually a lot better. This is, however, usually not the case in Germany if you happen to be close to its border.
However, you should not think that just because Swiss food has no pretension to beat Italian or French standards, Swiss cooks have given up hopes of being world class. The leading hostelry schools are in Switzerland and the highbrow French food guide Gault-Millaut gave its best award to no less than 7 Swiss restaurants.
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