Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Alpine Cuisine - just a taste!

I love food, and as such every month of my journeys so far I have spent a significant amount of time looking up recipes and photos of regional foods. It has been tricky finding "Alpine" food, because there are so many regions falling within different international borders. I've seen some overlap and similarities, and also how some cuisine is linked with their national heritage as well. So here's my best attempt to share some alpine cuisine with you! - by the way, since I'm a vegetarian, I'm mostly avoiding discussing the meat dishes - sorry!!!!!

Breakfasts in the Alps often consist of meats, cheeses, fruit,  rolls and pastries with fruit jams, with variation from region to region.

Muesli/Birchermüesli (Switzerland) - a common breakfast cereal made of uncooked rolled oats, fruit and nuts, developed around 1900 by a Swiss physician for his patients in the hospital.

Appetizers and Side Dishes
Well, be prepared to see a lot of food with high fat content and a lot of dairy and carbs. The alpine villagers traditionally needed hearty food, derived from local sources, and as such a lot of cheese, butter and potatoes are involved in their diets!

Spätzle (German/Bavarian, Austrian, Swiss) - type of egg noodle with a soft texture
Käsespätzle (German/Bavarian) -   spätzle mixed with Emmental cheese

Obatzda (Bavarian) -  soft cheese mixed with butter, paprika, salt, pepper, onions, garlic, horseradish, cumin, caraway, spread on bread or pretzels

Reiberdatschi (Bavarian), Röschti (Swiss) - potato pancake.

Knödel (Austrian/Tyrolian, Bavarian), Canaderli (Italian) - Large round poached or boiled potato or bread dumplings, made without yeast.  They can be made from flour, potatoes, old bread, or semonlina.

Main Dishes
So, I already know that if I go to the Alps, I'm going to be eating a LOT of side dishes because their main dishes tend to be very meat-centered. That's ok though - there seems to be a lot of yummy sides, and just wait til we get to dessert!!!! But, anyways, lots of meat dishes are popular, including suckling pig! YIKES!!!

Alperrosti (Lichtenstein) - Similar to Swiss Röschti, this dish has a base of shredded fried potatoes which is flavored with bacon or ham, topped with a slice of Gruyere cheese and is served with a fried egg.

Gnocchi (Austria/Tyrol, Italy) - Thick, soft dumplings, often made from potatoes and featuring creamy sauces and Alpine herbs.

Älpermagrone (Switzerland) - Basically, this is Swiss mac n' cheese, but that's a bit too simple of a description. This dish originated from the men who would go high up in the pastures with the cows every summer. They would stay there for months at a time and lived on what they brought along and milk from the cows. They would even boil the macaroni in milk! It is a very rich and hearty dish that would stick to their ribs:) Bergkaese is the cheese commonly used and it would often be topped by fried onions and apple slices, or applesauce on the side.

The drinks from various regions of the Alps vary significantly. Some areas, like Bavaria, feature numerous breweries and are renown for their beers.  In fact, in Bavaria there are more than 750 breweries including the worlds oldest, which was founded in 1040.  Some varieties include wheat beers, Marzen, Bock, and many more.  Other regions, like Tyrol (Austria) and Ticino (Switzerland) are better known for their wines including Reislings, Gewurstrameiners, and Chasselas.

Schnapps (Germany/Bavaria, Austria) - clear, colorless alcoholic beverages with a light fruit flavor. Common flavors include apple, pear, plum, cherry, and, particularly in Austria, apricot.
Brandy (Slovenia) - made from fruit - Blueberry brandy is very popular

Radler (Germany/Bavaria) - beer mixed with citrus flavored soda

Spezi (Germany/Bavaria) - mix of coke and orange soda

Ovomaltine (Swizterland) - known as "Ovaltine" here in the U.S., this chocolatey drink originated in Switzerland. Sometimes they sprinkle the dried powder on top of buttered bread!

Whew! Ok, I didn't even get to desserts, but I gotta wrap this up right now. I'll write a post about desserts later on this month!!!!!

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