This Thanksgiving note came in from the American side of the family early Thursday, as the US holiday was getting underway (photos may follow, if she can bear to send them). Names changed to protect the first-time-for-pie granny:
“I’m baking 2 pumpkin pies to take to Mark’s & Susan’s tomorrow night. Terry [daughter] couldn’t believe that I’ve never baked a pie in my life. I was going to buy these, but she convinced me that pumpkin pie is the easiest thing in the world to make, so I bought the stuff to make them. However, since I’m baking two, I have them staggered on two different oven racks, and thought it was a good idea to switch them halfway through.
“I managed to move the first one just fine, but when I got to the second one (full of very runny pumpkin filling), I dropped it onto the oven door and the entire filling and part of the crust ran all over the interior of the door. So that involved a big cleanup. First I scraped most of it back into the pie (minus some crust); luckily the door was very clean! Then I decided it would be best to clean up the remainder, rather than let it bake onto the door and into all the cracks. So I spent quite a lot of time removing that (from a very hot door), then started baking again.
Who knows how this will all turn out?! No wonder I’ve always bought pies in the past.”
Swiss food news
Zurich, Switzerland (GenevaLunch.com) – Switzerland’s largest supermarket chain, Migros, will increase by one-third its purchases of Swiss Integrated Production grains for bread at the 2011 harvest, significantly increasing its use of near-organic grains. Integrated Production (IP, or PI in French) is a label that covers a set of very high standards followed by about 20,000 of Switzerland’s 60,000 farmers for part or all of their production. It is not as strict in terms of chemical use as organic farming, but farmers commit themselves to working closely with nature and to encouraging biodiversity by helping flora and fauna thrive.
Migros will increase its IP grains by 90,000 tons, using these for bread and bakery products made by its bakery arm, Jowa, and for flour sold in its food outlets. The decision should give a boost to the label TerreSuisse, jointly created by IP-Suisse, Migros and the Swiss Ornithological Institute in Sembach.
TerreSuisse farmers, notes Migros, use no fungicides or insecticides, and they make a concerted effort to create spaces that encourage biodiversity: ponds for wild plants and wildlife, empty stretches in the middle of fields to encourage the threatened skylark to nest there, as well as hares, and fallow fields that encourage insects and cornflowers to flourish. They often heap stones into mounds that serve as shelters for lizards.
Lausanne, Switzerland (GenevaLunch.com) – Scientists at the University of Lausanne have discovered that the third generation, or “grandchildren” of funghi they took from a field near Zurich could play a role in reducing the need for fertilizer for rice, allowing it to grow five times faster than rice produced today, with a little help from funghi which, in their turn, have been helped by labs. The researchers caution that the results of their work are far from being ready to apply to rice paddies, but the research unearthed significant information about rice (explanation, Science Now):
More than 80% of plant species make friends with a common fungus. In return for sugar, the fungus helps the plants extract nutrients from the soil. But rice plants, a primary food source for billions of people, don’t have this special relationship—and thus they don’t receive the extra boost the fungi give other plants. A new study suggests that with a little help from researchers, however, the fungus will bond with rice, increasing the plant’s growth rate by up to five times.
The first two generations of funghi had little impact on the rice, but the grandchildren did, which researcher Ian Sanders and his team surmise is due to the greater genetic variability of the third generation grown under laboratory conditions.
The research was published in the 10 June issue of Current Biology.
GenevaLunch is looking for contributors to our revised food blog, now called Savouring Switzerland! We are opening up some of our blogs to the local international community in the Lake Geneva region, to give more people a voice and an opportunity to share their knowledge and experience. We have a small group of writers lined up to write about food and we are looking for more.
If you are interested, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org, including a link to online samples of your work. If you want to send attachments, please make sure they are not bigger than 2MB.
Here is what we are looking for:
- published writers (this can mean your own blog as long as there are enough entries for us to judge the writing): reliability, good writing, a love of all things related to food
- food photographers
- contributors who will write 1-2 times a month, anywhere from 50-300 words, with accompanying images as a general rule
- wide variety of topics: food news, Switzerland and food, regional dishes, shopping, markets, recipes (not our main focus, however) of interest to the international community, food sources for a variety of national cuisines, food trends, seasonal, cooking with children – the possibilities are wide open.
We can offer you the most widely-read source of news and information in English in the region, with an excellent reputation for quality, as a platform. We will provide a link to your own blog or web site if you are a regular contributor. Please note that, as with all blogs, we do not edit and there is no payment.
Our thanks go to Jonell Galloway-White, who has done a wonderful job of writing The Rambling Epicure in this space for the past year, will now be setting up her own independent blog (and contributing, when she has time, to Savouring Switzerland) to focus more on European cuisine.
By Ellen Wallace, GL editor
The Swiss supermarket chain Migros has just introduced seven new food products from the Balkans that it will carry regularly, to answer a growing demand, it says.
The products, from Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, are:
- Vegeta, a trendy mix of spices and herbs, from Croatia
- Podravka beef slices, Croatia
- Podravka goulash, which has won a Superior Taste Award, Croatia
- Argeta chicken-based spread, with no preservatives, from Slovenia
- two prepared vegetable products, Ajvar, one strong, one mild
- coming in autumn: peppers stuffed with sauerkraut
by Ellen Wallace
My first potato plant has just poked its head above the mound where it grows, and my thoughts immediately turned to that Swiss favourite, roesti.
We grow enough potatoes to last the family from July to late January, and while my preference remains boiled and salted for fresh-out-of-the-ground spuds, roesti is an easy second favourite.
The June wedding season will soon be upon us, and if you’re looking for a particularly Swiss gift, consider these. If your budget is under CHF50 another option is always a lovely padded Swiss potato basket with top to keep them warm.
Two fine kitchen gifts: a roesti hand-crafted dish or a Swiss Diamond breakfast pan
Two kitchen items that make the roesti experience nicer also make excellent wedding gifts, if they are in your budget.
I have a roesti dish from the Heimatwerk shops, of which there are several in Switzerland. They do beautiful hand-crafted ceramics.
The dish is designed so you can cook the potatoes on a griddle, on one side, slip them into the dish, then turn it back over into the pan to cook the other side. We put the pan on top of the dish, as if it were a lid, then in one quick motion reverse it.
The Rambling Epicure’s 2010 Manifesto: Mindful Eating and more
The Rambling Epicure on Facebook and Twitter
I’ve started two Facebook groups: The Rambling Epicure, for our worldwide followers, and Swiss Foodies, for those who are more focused on what goes on in the Swiss food world. These groups include the GenevaLunch posts, as well as reading suggestions for food- and restaurant-related articles from news sites and blogs, with a short introduction by The Rambling Epicure.
The addition of the Facebook and Twitter feeds lets you follow “breaking news” in the food world. I will from time to time gather the highlights of these one-line inroductions into a Foodie News letter, like the one last week, so you can get an overview of what’s going on the food and restaurant world in Switzerland and abroad.
I am American and I do read Michael Pollan, but I’ve been on this ecological, healthy eating, organic food kick since I was a child. I was raised on homegrown food and Wendell Berry, so all the things we’re reading these days just seem like common sense to me. I’m just a hillbilly in a red silk dress, after all.
This being said, I want to encourage the movement toward buying local products, cooking homemade food and general awareness of what and how we eat. The rising rate of obesity in children in the Western world makes me think it’s time we all take a look at exactly what we eat and how we teach our children to eat.
A lot of this information comes from studies and literature in the U.S., so it may seem overly American at times, but just be aware that this is because Switzerland is a small country with numerous languages so we just don’t have the means of having the wealth of literature they have in the U.S.
Buying local, buying Swiss
Since I live in Switzerland, local means Swiss, so you might feel I’m pushing Swiss products down your throat. I’m not.
Buying local is not only healthier; it also creates a local economy. I encourage everyone, wherever they live, to do the same. We’ll not only eat healthier, but we’ll also support our local businesses and provide jobs.
It is also more ecological to buy products that were produced just down the road from your house: less pollution, less fuel consumption.
It means being mindful of what you buy and what you put in the your body. It means being mindful of the effect it has on the environment and on your health.
2009 was my first year of doing this blog, and I had a lot of ground to cover. This year I will devote more time to searching for restaurants for all budgets, restaurants that are in line with my Mindful Eating Manifesto (to be published soon here on GenevaLunch), and just interesting places to eat.
Every meal doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal. If your products are good quality, you don’t even have to do a lot to whip up a tasty meal. So restaurants that use good ingredients will have a place right alongside gourmet restaurants.
When it comes to wine and food, a name is not just a name
Switzerland has had AOCs for a while now, but on 14 January 2010, the Swiss federal agriculture office, OFAG, published an official bulletin containing a list of approximately 800 appellations of origin and geographical indications, roughly the equivalent of the French Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC). These were voted in in the context of a reciprocal agreement with the EU, and are to be protected and respected throughout the EU.
This effort should help to improve the reputation of Swiss products outside Switzerland. As of 15 March 2010, any person or company can stamp agricultural products produced in the defined geographic locations with the geographic indications and appellations defined in this list with an AOC type seal.
The project is still being finalized, so there may be even more good news on the way.
Migros’s home delivery service is perfect during this period of icy, snowy streets
Since I live in the old town in Geneva, I walk everywhere. A few years ago, I had shoulder and wrist injuries from carrying too many heavy shopping bags, and ever since, I’ve had to do my heavy grocery and household shopping with a trolley. A couple of years ago, after regularly hearing the leshop.ch ads on WRS (formerly WRG), I decided to try and avoid pulling my heavy trolley, filled with milk, detergents, and other heavy products, up the hill from the Coop 2000 and the Boulevard Helvétique market to the Russian Church, so I tried leshop.ch. With the ice and snow on the streets over the last few weeks, home delivery can definitely be a godsend.
Online supermarket shopping, a luxury that fits every pocked
Although the leshop site is not the most user-friendly and not everything is translated into English, it is still quite functional for a non-French-speaker. The process is simple. Start by opening an account. This allows you to have a shopping cart, which you can use just like a shopping list that you put on the front of the refrigerator, adding things as you run out of them (I just leave my leshop.ch shopping cart open on the screen and add things as needed). When you are ready to order, send it in before midnight, and it will arrive on your doorstep between 5 and 8 p.m. the next day.
Anyone living in Geneva really should know how to prepare cardoons, since it is Geneva’s favorite winter vegetable. The problem is it is time-consuming and tedious, not to speak of the prickly thistles.
Cardoon gratin is one of Geneva’s favorite Christmas dishes, so now’s the time to learn!