As Different as Milk and Shake

Swiss Milkshake - Lovely

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

"So, how was it this time?"

It’s the question he always asks me and I’m sure he’s tired of asking me. “Umm,” I moan, “not what I was expecting.” Every time it’s so close to the idea I have in my head, but so far from it that at the same time it feels like years since I had the real thing. Maybe it has been that long and I’ve just lost track of...

As we leave the retro American diner near the river, I reminisce about all the other times I tried to find what I’m looking for. “I just don’t understand,” I tell my husband while finding our way back to the car. “This is the land of milk and chocolate. How could a milkshake go so wrong?”

 

Finding a Milkshake in Switzerland

Swiss Strawberry Milkshake

Since arriving in 2009, I have been on a diligent quest to find a quality milkshake in Switzerland. The best are the ones with milk so thick, it gets stuck in the straw and you’d need a spoon just to finish it.

However, I have only found “milkshakes” made from a watery and flavorless chocolate milk powder mix or some equivalent thereof. For a country with a plethora of dairy products and exquisite hot chocolate, I’m surprised they haven’t found a way to perfect the art of the milkshake.

So, why is there an obvious absence of milkshake-making-ability in Switzerland?

“Do you think it’s how they blend the milkshake? I mean if Swiss have techniques to make outstanding watches, wouldn’t they have the right blenders too?” I tease my Swiss husband. “Yeah, of course they have blenders, but maybe it’s not the blender’s fault, but what goes into the milkshake.” I consider the suggestion for a while and give thought to what the missing “secret ingredient” for the perfect milkshake could be.

Swiss Milkshake Lovely

My concentration is broken when I stumble on an unruly stone in the cobble path. “Yeah,” I reply, “because the shakes here just aren’t as thick and rich as I’d like them to be. Could ice or ice cream be what’s missing?” Having now reached the car, we settle in for the ride home. “Could be. I think having more ice cream than ice is the key. Otherwise, with ice it stays like it is, which should actually be called a frappe.” I laugh because he’s right. There’s more “frap” to the dessert we just shared than “shake”.

A Matter of Definition

While taking the freeway home, I contemplate where I am, where I came from and how something so simple as a milkshake could be understood so differently. I think about the places that hold memories of my family and friends, the beach, the cloudless sky, all the types of food and shopping I have known since childhood.

Before I know it, we have parked the car and I am home. At home in Switzerland. At home because I know who I am and who I will always be.

I unlock our front door, still pondering the appeal of the Swiss milkshake, and decide I don’t need to wonder any more. The different milkshakes are what makes each of my homes individual, and rather then trying to duplicate one with the other, respecting each as unique makes my memories that much more valuable.

“There's a new burger restaurant in Kreis 2 in Zürich. Should we try the milkshakes there?” He’s still on the quest with me. “I don’t see why not. I’m open to trying new things.”

(Pictures copyright by Swissmilk)

Ashley

A California girl who is learning more and more about her new home in Switzerland. She enjoys sharing this experience with other "Newly Swissed" to help them feel a little more at home, too. When she’s not writing at her desk, Ashley is doing yoga, stand-up paddle boarding, traveling or is trying out a new idea.

Latest posts by Ashley (see all)

  • CAROL

    HI ASHLEY,
    AS A AMERICAN, YOU KNOW WHAT CHOCOLATE CAKE SHOULD TASTE LIKE. EVER TRIED CHOCOLATE CAKE IN SWITZERLAND? IF SO, SURE YOU HAVE ADDED IT TO YOUR LIST OF THINGS THAT CAN GO WRONG IN THE LAND OF MILK AND CHOCOLATE.

  • Hi Carol. YES! I know exactly what you mean. I have been able to get around the Swiss vs. American versions of the chocolate by one of the following ways:

    – Use a Swiss cake mix WITH American frosting. This actually creates a nice balance.

    – Use a Swiss cake mix and add a few extra ingredients to “spice it up”, i.e. egg white to make it moister and sugar!

    So now I can enjoy Swiss chocolate cake again – I just have to doctor it up a bit. 😉

  • Tim

    Having visited Switzerland many times over the last 20 years, I still find that there are things I take for granted as being the “same” as the American version. I remember the first time I ordered a milkshake and waited in great anticipation for its arrival. I was astonished that what I received was actually a glass of milk with a packet of flavor added and then “shaken”. Ahhh – not what I was expecting.

    But I enjoy learning these new things. Whenever we bring first-time visitors with us to a restaurant I sometimes just sit back and watch quietly knowing that what they think they ordered will be vastly different when it arrives at the table. It’s funny to watch the expressions!

  • Hi Tim. It’s good to hear that I’m not the only one having trouble adapting to the Swiss’ literal version of the milkshake. I see what you mean about enjoying sitting back and watching what first-timers think of Swiss milkshakes. I think it’s confusing since this is the land of chocolate and you’d assume they know how to prepare a dessert – just like Carol mentioned about the cake! Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

  • Dee Keller

    I just make my own at home in the blender and put enough ice cream in them to make them thick. I doubt that they put ice cream in the ones in the restaurants.

    I also make smoothies at home using yogurt and frozen fruit (that I freeze myself).

    So, now I am on a hunt for shots of wheatgrass juice in Switzerland. Do you know of a place? Preferably not a hundred miles from Adelboden?

    • Hi Dee! Thanks for your milkshake advice! Regarding Weizengrassaft (wheatgrass juice), have you tried a pharmacy (Drogerie or Apotheke), or a Bio-Laden?

  • CAROL

    Would suggest to google “wheatgrass juice” in german & french and then go to your local homeopathic pharmacy and ask them to order it for you 🙂

  • Dee

    Trouble is, with wheatgrass juice, that you have to squeeze the wheatgrass and drink the juice within 2 minutes. So it has to be a juice stand with wheat grass growing in flats there. I think this so far doesn’t exist in Switzerland. Maybe I should start up my own juice bar.

  • Hi Dee. I used to LOVE my local Jamba Juice back home and have since missed readily available fresh juice in CH. It does seem that the French side is more likely to have juice bars. Otherwise there is a place that pops-up regularly at the Zurich train station market most Wednesdays. I have also seen them at places like the Claiente Festival and Street Parade. Although I can’t remember their name, their booth is zebra print. Saftladen and Jucie Market might also have what you need.

    P.S. I’ve tried doing my own milkshake at home and it just melts too fast! I am convinced that I need a cold metal cup to mix it in just like at a diner. Ha ha.

  • Dee

    Yes! A cold glass or metal cup! You could put a glass in the freezer, if it’s thick and durable, like a glass beer mug or something. Some of the milkshakes in America, if they are from a chain, may have a chemical thickening agent in them, which I’m sure we don’t even want to know about. (Why is this logging me in as The Kellereport? That’s my news page, not my personal one. Strange.)

  • Hi Dee. I do know about the thickening agent. I guess it’s a product of seaweed or rather something in the seaweed that they extract. But yes, I’d like to believe the milkshake is just thick on it’s own. Ha ha.