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  #101  
Old 12.01.2012, 03:51
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

I keep telling my Swiss wife we should move to Switzerland and I could open an American style "Greasy Spoon" breakfast restaurant. When her family is here they can't wait for me to make my breakfast potatoes with ham, bacon and eggs!! Of course, with plenty of coffee, OJ and toast. I also think a nice drive thru breakfast burrito place would go well in the right location. I of course would probably have to import the green chile I'd bet!!
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  #102  
Old 12.01.2012, 08:32
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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I keep telling my Swiss wife we should move to Switzerland and I could open an American style "Greasy Spoon" breakfast restaurant. When her family is here they can't wait for me to make my breakfast potatoes with ham, bacon and eggs!! Of course, with plenty of coffee, OJ and toast. I also think a nice drive thru breakfast burrito place would go well in the right location. I of course would probably have to import the green chile I'd bet!!
I'd give you 3 months.

Then you would realise the market for such restaurants would appeal only to a small amount of expats only...
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  #103  
Old 12.01.2012, 09:12
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

There are so many things that I have heard that the Swiss people will not "go for" on this forum and it seems that each one is untrue. I have read in so may posts that the Swiss do not go for take away "fast food" and that is why there is such a lack. But yet when I pass by McDonalds on my way home, the Drive Thru line is always packed and so is the lobby. Same goes with the Kebap places. And this is in a small town (Heimburg). I have read that they would hate to have stores open on Sunday, but the two Sundays stores were open in December were mad houses. So I truly believe that a breakfast joint, or BBQ or fish and chips or just a better variety of restaurant choice would be successful. Maybe the key is that nobody HAS done it. Maybe the Swiss shy away from eating out a lot because there IS so little variety. One should not have to search creation or commute hours for a meal of choice.

Here is a great reverse example: Many of my friends in the US had never tried real Fondue. You can get it there, but it is not common. Most didn't really have a desire one way or another to eat it. Not opposed, but not pushing to get it. Once I brought some back (not the super fresh kind, but at least it was Swiss) they all fell in love. Now when I return to the states, I lug boxes of Fondue mix. All they needed was to try what they didn't have and they were hooked. Give the Swiss the option for these restaurants and you may be surprised.
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  #104  
Old 12.01.2012, 09:52
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

It is a bit simplistic to think, for example, something along the lines of, "Yeah, that corner is empty; a nice fried chicken sandwich place, along the lines of Chic-fil-a, would fit well there and should be successful because who doesn't like fried chicken and bread? For sure all those EF chicken run people like LiB who are always running to France to get some KFC would come there!" It is easy for us expats to only take our thought process that far. What about all the other questions regarding the practicalities of running a business here: the financing; the permits/regulations; the marketing; the staffing; the cost of supplies; etc. In the US, places like that many times are franchises which have the benefit of the oversight of a larger company for operative issues; not so here, with the exception of McD's and BK. A lot to deal with for a foreigner trying to open an authentic ethnic restaurant and obviously a huge barrier, especially without the advantage of a relatively highly-populated area. It makes me have even more respect for those ethnic places that have managed to thrive in "the sticks."

Rather than spending time pondering/agonizing/imagining regarding the types of restaurants available in your locale (or the lack thereof), I think it makes more sense to devote effort to developing/honing one's cooking ability and finding recipes in order that one may make the foods that (s)he loves and misses at home (lots of online resources for recipes are available). Sure, not all foods can be reproduced the same way as your fav restaurant in your home country, but many can come close!
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  #105  
Old 12.01.2012, 10:26
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

I don't think that ALL Swiss food is bad or mediocre (although there is an awful lot that is), but I do notice a division between the Swiss Germans, the Suisse Romande and the Ticinesi - with food being generally better in the French and Italian areas.

I think a good illustration of the difference is what the Swiss Germans and the Ticinesi do with the basic ingredients of milk, flour, potatoes and cheese: the Swiss Germans turn these ingredients into a lump of stodge called Alpler Maggoronen (Sp?) - which if dropped on your foot can break small bones whereas the Ticinesi take the same ingredients and turn them into feather light gnocchi (I exaggerate but a little...)

I think that one of the factors powering the mediocrity of so many restaurants north of Ticino (or across from the Rösti-Graben), is the people's attitude towards food and I think that there is a significant (subconscious?) Swiss German perspective that food is fuel and no more than that (get in, get it down, get out), unlike the Suisse Romande and Ticinesi that have more of the French and Italian approach to food (i.e. eating is a pleasurable and important part of living).

I'm not saying it hold true for everyone everywhere in the German Cantons, but I think it's a major factor.
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  #106  
Old 12.01.2012, 12:28
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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It is a bit simplistic to think, for example, something along the lines of, "Yeah, that corner is empty; a nice fried chicken sandwich place, along the lines of Chic-fil-a, would fit well there and should be successful because who doesn't like fried chicken and bread? For sure all those EF chicken run people like LiB who are always running to France to get some KFC would come there!" It is easy for us expats to only take our thought process that far. What about all the other questions regarding the practicalities of running a business here: the financing; the permits/regulations; the marketing; the staffing; the cost of supplies; etc.
Blah. We had the same discussions around the lack of currywurst in the German community some 5 years ago, including the "the Swiss will never eat that" thing. To date, there are afaik three successful Currywurst places in Zurich.
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Old 12.01.2012, 23:04
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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It is a bit simplistic to think, for example, something along the lines of, "Yeah, that corner is empty; a nice fried chicken sandwich place, along the lines of Chic-fil-a, would fit well there and should be successful because who doesn't like fried chicken and bread? For sure all those EF chicken run people like LiB who are always running to France to get some KFC would come there!" It is easy for us expats to only take our thought process that far. What about all the other questions regarding the practicalities of running a business here: the financing; the permits/regulations; the marketing; the staffing; the cost of supplies; etc. In the US, places like that many times are franchises which have the benefit of the oversight of a larger company for operative issues; not so here, with the exception of McD's and BK. A lot to deal with for a foreigner trying to open an authentic ethnic restaurant and obviously a huge barrier, especially without the advantage of a relatively highly-populated area. It makes me have even more respect for those ethnic places that have managed to thrive in "the sticks."

Rather than spending time pondering/agonizing/imagining regarding the types of restaurants available in your locale (or the lack thereof), I think it makes more sense to devote effort to developing/honing one's cooking ability and finding recipes in order that one may make the foods that (s)he loves and misses at home (lots of online resources for recipes are available). Sure, not all foods can be reproduced the same way as your fav restaurant in your home country, but many can come close!

EXCELLENT post, totally agree!
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  #108  
Old 12.01.2012, 23:13
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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There are so many things that I have heard that the Swiss people will not "go for" on this forum and it seems that each one is untrue. I have read in so may posts that the Swiss do not go for take away "fast food" and that is why there is such a lack. But yet when I pass by McDonalds on my way home, the Drive Thru line is always packed and so is the lobby. Same goes with the Kebap places. And this is in a small town (Heimburg). I have read that they would hate to have stores open on Sunday, but the two Sundays stores were open in December were mad houses. So I truly believe that a breakfast joint, or BBQ or fish and chips or just a better variety of restaurant choice would be successful. Maybe the key is that nobody HAS done it. Maybe the Swiss shy away from eating out a lot because there IS so little variety. One should not have to search creation or commute hours for a meal of choice.

Here is a great reverse example: Many of my friends in the US had never tried real Fondue. You can get it there, but it is not common. Most didn't really have a desire one way or another to eat it. Not opposed, but not pushing to get it. Once I brought some back (not the super fresh kind, but at least it was Swiss) they all fell in love. Now when I return to the states, I lug boxes of Fondue mix. All they needed was to try what they didn't have and they were hooked. Give the Swiss the option for these restaurants and you may be surprised.
I really have to agree with this. There is a lack of options in cuisine (the majority of restaurants I have run across offer Swiss, Italian, or Continental cuisine), and a lot of inertia for it to stay that way, which is unfortunate. If it is a 'niche market,' for that type of cuisine (breakfast wraps or greasy spoon), then one restaurant, cleverly located, and properly marketed and managed would likely be successful. However, ten restaurants would probably over-saturate the market.

We brought back fondue kits for our family as 'souvenirs' (Coop moite-moite, our current favorite) and everyone loved it, telling us that they wished the US chain Fondue restaurant served fondue half as good.
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Old 13.01.2012, 00:34
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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I'd give you 3 months.

Then you would realise the market for such restaurants would appeal only to a small amount of expats only...
I think that's an overly pessimistic view. I've heard plenty of Swiss raving about the great breakfasts they had in the US with pancakes, waffles and I don't know what. I'm pretty sure there's a market beyond expats. It may not be huge, but it's there.

A pure breakfast restaurant might be more difficult, but a classic American diner with a nice breakfast menu plus burgers, shakes and everything else might work pretty well in the right place.
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Old 13.01.2012, 00:51
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

Sorry I'm a bit late.
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Wolli, Wolli, Wolli... There have been countless pages about the shortcomings of the restaurants throughout CH, yet you still defend them.

Do you really think that, "Italian, German, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Arab, Israeli, IndianPakistani, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Mexican, Brazilian and US-American" altered to fit local Swiss tastes is still "good?"
fduvall, fduvall, fduvall, do you really think that, "Italian, German, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Arab, Israeli, IndianPakistani, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Mexican, Brazilian and Swiss" altered to fit local US tastes is still "good?"

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At least where I come from, we look for restaurants that serve the most authentic foreign cuisines. That is how we measure "good."
Laugh of the day. I'm still trying to find a Greek restaurant in the USA that serves something that even remotely resembles Greek food. I'm sure they do exist, but they are very rare and far between, "far" meaning hundreds of miles except in huge cities. Same applies to Italian, not to mention real Mexican. I can't judge other national cuisines due to lack of sufficient experience, but those two examples say a lot.
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  #111  
Old 13.01.2012, 01:54
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

And what, exactly, would "local" tastes be in an area like the San Francisco Bay Area where you have an incredible ethnic mix (and many are temp expats or recent immigrants)? Have you spent any time there?

Do you really think it is difficult to look inside a restaurant and see who is eating there and who owns it? Or do you think the Vietnamese/Chinese/Mexican/French/Greek/name your country have all just forgotten how their home cuisine should be prepared? And let me be clear, I am not trying to defend the entire US, nor make this a US vs CH argument. It is merely my commentary on cuisine in CH (and primarily Zurich).

I can tell you that I have had some of the best Japanese noodles in Paris, incredible Indonesian food in Amsterdam, great Lebanese in London and grat Turkish in Berlin. I like to travel and part of it is to experience food. Not only local food, as I do find it quite interesting to try various Asian cuisines in non-Asian countries. I guess I am a bit strange this way...

So my comment provided you the "laugh of the day..." It just boggles my mind that anyone can defend the restaurant culture/quality in CH. And this is not an attack on Swiss cuisine, as I happen to like places like Zeughauskeller, zum Kropf or Johanniter. But please, even the "best" ethnic food in CH is not very good. And this is not just according to fduvall.

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Sorry I'm a bit late.

fduvall, fduvall, fduvall, do you really think that, "Italian, German, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Arab, Israeli, IndianPakistani, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Mexican, Brazilian and Swiss" altered to fit local US tastes is still "good?"

Laugh of the day. I'm still trying to find a Greek restaurant in the USA that serves something that even remotely resembles Greek food. I'm sure they do exist, but they are very rare and far between, "far" meaning hundreds of miles except in huge cities. Same applies to Italian, not to mention real Mexican. I can't judge other national cuisines due to lack of sufficient experience, but those two examples say a lot.
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Old 13.01.2012, 03:21
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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I keep telling my Swiss wife we should move to Switzerland and I could open an American style "Greasy Spoon" breakfast restaurant. When her family is here they can't wait for me to make my breakfast potatoes with ham, bacon and eggs!! Of course, with plenty of coffee, OJ and toast. I also think a nice drive thru breakfast burrito place would go well in the right location. I of course would probably have to import the green chile I'd bet!!
Be realistic. The time, average people here in Switzerland give to breakfast over the past 50 years has fallen by 70%, and for sure is less than 30% of what average Americans give to breakfast. Swiss who are on visit to the USA enjoy American breakfasts quite heavily, but at home no longer find the time to have breakfast at all. In the 1950ies and 60ies, people had, usually at home, a "Café Complet" (Kafi Komplä), which means bread with butter and jam/marmelade and beside that either coffee or hot chocolate (two cups per person) but those possibly are gone times, with people getting up and rushing to the office to have a coffee out of the machine.

There may be a market, if the place if alright, and the organisation is up to the demand. So, not a "mission impossible", but for sure not an easy task
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  #113  
Old 13.01.2012, 03:48
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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There are so many things that I have heard that the Swiss people will not "go for" on this forum and it seems that each one is untrue. I have read in so may posts that the Swiss do not go for take away "fast food" and that is why there is such a lack. But yet when I pass by McDonalds on my way home, the Drive Thru line is always packed and so is the lobby. Same goes with the Kebap places. And this is in a small town (Heimburg). I have read that they would hate to have stores open on Sunday, but the two Sundays stores were open in December were mad houses. So I truly believe that a breakfast joint, or BBQ or fish and chips or just a better variety of restaurant choice would be successful. Maybe the key is that nobody HAS done it. Maybe the Swiss shy away from eating out a lot because there IS so little variety. One should not have to search creation or commute hours for a meal of choice.

Here is a great reverse example: Many of my friends in the US had never tried real Fondue. You can get it there, but it is not common. Most didn't really have a desire one way or another to eat it. Not opposed, but not pushing to get it. Once I brought some back (not the super fresh kind, but at least it was Swiss) they all fell in love. Now when I return to the states, I lug boxes of Fondue mix. All they needed was to try what they didn't have and they were hooked. Give the Swiss the option for these restaurants and you may be surprised.
A) Nobody hates to have stores open on Sunday, as those shops which ARE open on Sunday in specific places in Basel, Zürich, Luzern, Bern (+ some others) have shown in the past two decades.
A-2) I just know of some such places in Singen and Konstanz. One of them was a good tailor in Konstanz, of Jewish origin, who was closed on Saturday and open on Sunday, and, convinced by one customer from Schaffhausen and a female cousin of that customer in Zürich-Enge, finally, just in time, moved to Zürich Enge in about 1935, AND continued to have open on Sunday (special permission) until about 1951.

B) the Kebab places you mention food-wise mostly are of doubtful quality, but service-wise, people in these places are superb (as they generally are friendly and hospitable)

C) the "variety" of restaurants is not THE problem. Rather the "variety" of business ideas in the minds of so many of those gastronomes.
C-2) AND the concepts. A good Italian restaurant is a RISTORANTE and serves the whole rich variety of Italian cuisine (Pasta dishes and many meat-meals, with Pizze rather at the end of the list). In the 1960ies I on visits to Italy (Toscana) saw "pizzerie" which were places (for example beside the beach) offering small but spicy pizze just large enough for a small plate (about 25% of what you now generally get here). for what now would be about CHF 2.-- , served within 3 minutes "over the counter"
C-3) to open up just another "Pizzeria" after the other and another "Pizza Service" after the other not only is a doubtful business idea but already has lead to numerous failures and will lead to even more collapses

D) NO, "the" Swiss do not "shy away" from whatever but check things up and then make the goodies themself at home !

Bottom line: YES, if the idea is done in a good way and in a good location, it may work
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Old 13.01.2012, 04:04
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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I keep telling my Swiss wife we should move to Switzerland and I could open an American style "Greasy Spoon" breakfast restaurant. When her family is here they can't wait for me to make my breakfast potatoes with ham, bacon and eggs!! Of course, with plenty of coffee, OJ and toast. I also think a nice drive thru breakfast burrito place would go well in the right location. I of course would probably have to import the green chile I'd bet!!
It's funny you should say that.
My wife is English born and bred, but has lived in the US for over two decades. Her comment was that the one thing that she thought the Swiss and the Ex-Pats would all go for would be a "Greasy Spoon" American Diner type of restaurant, especially if you had steak/pork chop and eggs with "genuine" rosti (hashbrowns over here). Plus with the great dairy product available in the CH one could do a killer biscuits and gravy or chicken fried pork/beef/veal cutlet smothered in gravy (sausage or not) and fresh baked goods. These things would sell like hotcakes (as we say over here ) and if they didn't then you could also sell hotcakes (pancakes) and waffles as well.

Wow, I'm hungry just writing this post.

Maybe that could be our retirement plan???
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Old 13.01.2012, 04:24
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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And what, exactly, would "local" tastes be in an area like the San Francisco Bay Area where you have an incredible ethnic mix (and many are temp expats or recent immigrants)? Have you spent any time there?
-
San Francisco or places like New Orleans and some others are superb places. But clearly not representing mainstreet-USA. Go to Marshall Texas or Shreveport Louisiana or Buda Texas. Quite many people in Zürich felt rather moved when San Francisco accepted Zürich as "partner-city". SFO is the only city of which an airplane of the national airline here got fully painted after. To have it the other way round, few people in Zurich would rate Zürich above SFO in regard to "life quality". Those who did and do so usually are US-Americans !


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Do you really think it is difficult to look inside a restaurant and see who is eating there and who owns it? Or do you think the Vietnamese/Chinese/Mexican/French/Greek/name your country have all just forgotten how their home cuisine should be prepared? And let me be clear, I am not trying to defend the entire US, nor make this a US vs CH argument. It is merely my commentary on cuisine in CH (and primarily Zurich).
The first question is something YOU should answer yourself. The second question is something which could be replied by a clear YES, except that there ARE quite many of them, who foolishly try to adapt to European tastes. Foolish in so far as there is no "European taste" really and foolish in so far as that kind of adaptation is a recipe for failure.


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So my comment provided you the "laugh of the day..." It just boggles my mind that anyone can defend the restaurant culture/quality in CH. And this is not an attack on Swiss cuisine, as I happen to like places like Zeughauskeller, zum Kropf or Johanniter. But please, even the "best" ethnic food in CH is not very good. And this is not just according to fduvall.
> nobody defends the "restaurant quality in CH" but the problem is not really the available quality of the food but the quality of the service. Let's add to this the lack of decent marketing and you have the mess. But, go to Konstanz and eat in a "chinese restaurant" there. That the prices are far lower than accross the border hardly justifies the lack of quality. To hand out forks in the style of an Imbiss-Gaststätte, but not even give the option of sticks, hardly is "not adapting to local taste". Konstanz sports excellent ethnic cuisine, but the Chinese in that place are "unter aller Kanone". I above have described some of the worst shortcomings in the Zürich place, REAL failures nobody ever mention of EF but which were and in some cases even still ARE failures.
> B) "are not good" ? when judging Indian restaurants here I compare it with Indian restaurants in London. Do you want to say that Indian restaurants in London generally are "not very good" ?
--- when judging Lebanese restaurants in Zürich, I compare them with Lebanese restaurants in London and Paris and Beirut. Do you want to say that Lebanese restaurants in London and Paris and Beirut are "not very good" ?

C) Johanniter and Kropf and Zeughauskeller are basically German cuisine plus in case of the Johanniter Italian cuisine. "Swiss cuisine" does NOT exist. There of course are some local and regional specialities like Züri-Gschnetzlets and Bärner Röschti, but generally, the cuisine is not specifically "Swiss". AND to go into details, Kropf is overpriced even by Zch-dtwn standards and overrated heavily while Johanniter and Zeughauskeller are exceptional indeed.
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Old 13.01.2012, 04:26
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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It's not just a Swiss thing, go to Italy and it's the same situation.

Tom
Yeah, but the difference to me is that when I go to Italy, I actually want to eat in the local restaurants all of the time.

OK, I also like to eat at la Vaudois, there is a great place in Gruyerre that I love, the village of Saint-Prex had a place called La Croix Federale, etc, etc.

I am all up for the "vive la difference" thing, but I really liked when we ate Swiss in CH, all complaining aside.
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Old 13.01.2012, 04:31
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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It's funny you should say that.
My wife is English born and bred, but has lived in the US for over two decades. Her comment was that the one thing that she thought the Swiss and the Ex-Pats would all go for would be a "Greasy Spoon" American Diner type of restaurant, especially if you had steak/pork chop and eggs with "genuine" rosti (hashbrowns over here). Plus with the great dairy product available in the CH one could do a killer biscuits and gravy or chicken fried pork/beef/veal cutlet smothered in gravy (sausage or not) and fresh baked goods. These things would sell like hotcakes (as we say over here ) and if they didn't then you could also sell hotcakes (pancakes) and waffles as well.

Wow, I'm hungry just writing this post.

Maybe that could be our retirement plan???
All true BUT
- the meals should NOT start at CHF 32.--
- the place should NOT look noble and exclusive
- the place should be OK for people who want to
go further 15 minutes later
- the coffee should not just be "flavoured+coloured water"
- the place after 10AM should also serve beer
- the place after 1115AM should also serve wine
- the place after 1330PM also should serve spirits
- and yes indeed, the specialities you mentioned should come round
in their original way, and not in a watered down "compromise"
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  #118  
Old 13.01.2012, 04:45
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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Yeah, but the difference to me is that when I go to Italy, I actually want to eat in the local restaurants all of the time.

OK, I also like to eat at la Vaudois, there is a great place in Gruyerre that I love, the village of Saint-Prex had a place called La Croix Federale, etc, etc.

I am all up for the "vive la difference" thing, but I really liked when we ate Swiss in CH, all complaining aside.

I have a problem with your comparison. Italy is a "nation state" with a strong "national cuisine" and this in spite or possibly or even due to the vast regional differences.

Another aspect is the "Vaudois". They for centuries had to find their ways in between Savoyard rulership (the later-on Kings of Italy) and the culturally dominating Burgundy and the ruling Bärner. What they developed out of all this indeed is respectable.

If you want to get excellent eating near Geneva, go to the farther-most edge to the WEST of that Canton where there is a really great restaurant with superb Cuisine Genevoise and Cuisine Lyonnaise. I unfortunately forget the name and exact location. We were there when my cousin in Coppet/VD wanted to show us all "la diffèrance" on the burial of our good old aunt of Hungarian/Slovak/German/Dutch origin (the best cook there ever was) !
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  #119  
Old 13.01.2012, 04:48
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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All true BUT
- the meals should NOT start at CHF 32.--
- the place should NOT look noble and exclusive
- the place should be OK for people who want to
go further 15 minutes later
- the coffee should not just be "flavoured+coloured water"
- the place after 10AM should also serve beer
- the place after 1115AM should also serve wine
- the place after 1330PM also should serve spirits
- and yes indeed, the specialities you mentioned should come round
in their original way, and not in a watered down "compromise"
Ooh, now I am hungry.

I don't know about prices but I would think that at the very least pancakes could start at 10chf for a short stack.

Of course the place would have to be cozy and homey and definitely not glitzy or "fab".

You comment on flavoured water mirrors my wife's problem with coffee over here. (We have a Nespresso machine over here too.)

Do you know how popular such a regimen (regarding beverages) would be in the city of St. Louis, I think New Orleans would do well with it also.

I don't know whether or not I could run a place like that but I could sure make the dishes up for the menu.
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  #120  
Old 13.01.2012, 10:00
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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Yeah, but the difference to me is that when I go to Italy, I actually want to eat in the local restaurants all of the time.
For me, the same when I'm here. Or when I go up north. Or next week when I go to Brussels.

Probably the only time I don't usually eat the local food is when I am in Germany or the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, why does anyone like diners?

Tom
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