Aromat, cervelat, and cenovis: these foods may appear alien to 99.9% of the world. But many Swiss go nuts about these foods, consuming them from cradle to grave.
Given its small size and geographical location, you would think that Switzerland has simply adopted Italian, French, and German cuisine. After all, there’s plenty of antipasti, escargots, and bratwurst right across the border.
You’re probably wondering: with all those culinary influences at their doorsteps, why don’t the Swiss just take the best of everything and stick with it?
The Swiss have their own little culinary universe. From unique soda beverages to “interesting” condiments, many of these Swiss foods will leave outsiders scratching their heads.
Strange as they might be, these are the very foods that the Swiss abroad beg their visiting inlaws to smuggle. In Switzerland, these products are staples in restaurants and inside household pantries…
These Swiss foods and beverages are loved by the locals:
Thomy Senf Mustard
Thomy Senf is the mustard of Switzerland. Its launch dates back to 1930, and it tastes most amazing when used in potato salad or with cervelat sausage.
The Swiss have been using Maggi Würze since 1887 when it presented a cheaper alternative to actual meat extract.
Think of it as the Swiss equivalent of soy sauce, although the current formula no longer contains soy.
Caotina Chocolate Powder
Launched in 1963, Caotina is synonymous with Swiss winters. Made with real Swiss milk chocolate and still produced in Bern, Caotina has got to be Switzerland’s national hot chocolate…
Have you ever caught a Swiss tourist pulling an Aromat shaker out of their purse somewhere abroad? Just to add a bit of seasoning to the local dish? It happens more than you would think.
Since 1953, generations of Swiss grew up with Aromat seasoning. It contains a fair amount of monosodium glutamate (MSG) which enhances the flavors of the foods it is used on. Is MSG good for your body? The jury’s still out on this one.
Hands down, the cervelat is Switzerland’s national sausage. A cervelat sausage belongs to any BBQ or typical Swiss festival, and it was declared Swiss Cultural Heritage icon. 160 million of them are produced each year, which amounts to about 25 cervelats per capita per year.
The recipe for cervelat is more complicated than it seems. The sausage contains beef, pork (50%), bacon and its rinds, lemon juice, ice water, and sugar (for the crunchiness when BBQed.) The spices are made up from fresh onions, pepper, coriander, nutmeg, garlic, and cloves.
In a country like Switzerland with as many dialects, there are numerous names for this sausage depending on the region:
Rivella Swiss Soda Beverage
Our list with foods the Swiss go nuts about would not be complete without a mention of Rivella. It is Switzerland’s soda beverage of choice, even though there are many alternatives.
Rivella has been around since 1952 when it was invented in Stäfa near Zürich. (We have dedicated an entire post to Rivella.) The base of Rivella is milk whey, a dairy extract. The red variety “Rivella rot” is the original taste. Over the decades, other varieties such as “Rivella blau” (low calorie) or “Rivella grün” (green tea) were launched.
The Swiss have been spreading le Parfait since 1950. Interestingly enough, the inventors Claude Blancpain and Erwin Haag intented to make a meat-free spread. However, after years of derivation during World War II, the Swiss population craved meat and meat products.
This spread made of brewer’s yeast, liver, and truffle was the answer to popular demand. The name was coined by Blancpain’s wife who first tried the spread at New Year’s in 1950. She shouted “C’est parfait!” – “It’s perfect!”
Cenovis is a Swiss spread for all the fans of Marmite. It first showed up on store shelves in 1931 and quickly gained popularity. Today, it is especially popular in western Switzerland.
Cenovis is made of brewer’s yeast extract, carrot and onion extracts, as well as salt. It is rich in vitamin B1. Cenovis is traditionally served on bread with butter, but it also works well in salat dressings or to marinate meat.
The name Cenovis is made up from two Latin terms: cenare (to eat) and vis (power).
Wacholder Latwerge is essentially juniper jam. The Swiss will eat it on freshly baked Zopf bread along with butter. The liquid texture of Latwerge is from sugar, honey, or corn syrup. There are various flavor profiles available, such as juniper, pine shoots, or cranberry.
Migros Kult Ice Tea
The “career” of Migros ice tea reads like a rags-to-riches story: Swiss store brand ice tea turns into the country’s most popular beverage yet never changes its character.
Launched in 1984 as part of the grocer’s budget line of products, Migros Ice Tea quickly became part of the Swiss diet. For generations, this was the beverage of choice for trips, school lunches, and parties.
Switzerland is actually considered the motherland of bottled iced tea, with a history dating back to 1984. As such, Migros claims to have invented the ice tea category. Whether they were the first on the block or not, this blend of black tea, rosehip and carcade flowers, sugar, and a dash of lemon juice tastes the best.
Interested in trying some of these foods? Have you tried some of them? What did you think?