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Old 10.01.2012, 15:13
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Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

Okay...so I have been here for 7 months now and I want to start by saying that I really love it here. What I don't get is the food(Restaurants). Can someone please tell me why the heck there is so little variety here? We went to Paris in October and had great Chinese food, french cuisine, fish and chips, pub food etc. Last week we spent a fabulous holiday in Scotland. Dined on great Mexican food, seafood, burgers, Indian. You name it, they had it. When I go home to the US, I mainly look forward to eating. Why is it that seemingly ever country I have visited (Italy, Greece, UK, US, Australia, France etc...) has a huge variety of restaurants to choose from from almost every culture and appetite, but here it is virtually non-existant? When you do find a "mexican" place or a "chinese" restaurant, it is not good. Why are there no fish and chip places or seafood? What about classic pub food? How is it possible that a country that is bordered by two of the most world renowned countries for food, can have such a lack of great food? WHY IS THE RESTAURANT SCENE SO BLAND AND ONE DIMENSIONAL?

P.S - Please do not use the lame excuse that we have no coastline and that is why there are no fish and chip joints. I had a great Maine lobster dinner in Utah, which is farther from a coast there CH is.
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Old 10.01.2012, 15:24
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

I´ll get some popcorn and make myself comfy until the feeding frenzy starts.
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Old 10.01.2012, 15:26
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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Okay...so I have been here for 7 months now and I want to start by saying that I really love it here. What I don't get is the food(Restaurants). Can someone please tell me why the heck there is so little variety here? We went to Paris in October and had great Chinese food, french cuisine, fish and chips, pub food etc. Last week we spent a fabulous holiday in Scotland. Dined on great Mexican food, seafood, burgers, Indian. You name it, they had it. When I go home to the US, I mainly look forward to eating. Why is it that seemingly ever country I have visited (Italy, Greece, UK, US, Australia, France etc...) has a huge variety of restaurants to choose from from almost every culture and appetite, but here it is virtually non-existant? When you do find a "mexican" place or a "chinese" restaurant, it is not good. Why are there no fish and chip places or seafood? What about classic pub food? How is it possible that a country that is bordered by two of the most world renowned countries for food, can have such a lack of great food? WHY IS THE RESTAURANT SCENE SO BLAND AND ONE DIMENSIONAL?

P.S - Please do not use the lame excuse that we have no coastline and that is why there are no fish and chip joints. I had a great Maine lobster dinner in Utah, which is farther from a coast there CH is.
I'd love to hear an answer from a Swiss person on here!
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Old 10.01.2012, 15:28
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

Swiss Person:
We don't need to have a restaurant for each country... we travel there directly, to get the best local food!!
Fancy a mexican? let's go to mexico,
Fancy a Fish and Ships? hop, London...


What I though everyone was earning above 120K here?

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Old 10.01.2012, 15:29
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Restaurants in Zurich are a dime a dozen. There are some really great places to eat, and even more not so great that you'll pay a bundle at along the way.

For us it's trial and error. Even more so frustrating when you eat a yummy meal and you go back a second time and it's absolute rubbish.

If you're looking for new places to eat I recommend looking at Trip Advisor. I've been contributing reviews for years, but my personal opinion on the Zurich Restaurants review page is that only recently (in the last year) have people really been contributing their feedback. With new reviews and restaurants being included, the top 10 rated places change quite frequently. This is different from a city like New York (for example) where the #1 restaurant may have been the top rated for months.

And I think Paris vs Switzerland is a bit like apples and oranges.....smaller country, less people (less influx of foreigners to provide you with ethnic food), decreased availability of specific foods.....
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Old 10.01.2012, 15:32
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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I'd love to hear an answer from a Swiss person on here!



BECAUSE ALL THE OTHER FOOD IS WRONG !!!
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Old 10.01.2012, 15:33
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You think this is why the Swiss are so trim?
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Old 10.01.2012, 15:37
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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WHY IS THE RESTAURANT SCENE SO BLAND AND ONE DIMENSIONAL?
Dude, have you seen the prices in the medium (as in, higher quality that a McDonals) restaurants? With those prices, not a lot of people can afford going out more that 1 time per month.

Also, I have been told constantly by Swiss how Portuguese are weird because back in the old country people just go to a restaurant and sit there 3 hours. As my dear Swiss bosses put it "there is no culture of going out for dinner in here."

When you have the demand, restaurants will pop. But, dude, when even the crapiest of the crapiest dönner in Hardbrücke costs 18 CHF, you won't see many people investing in restaurant opening... or visiting...
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Old 10.01.2012, 15:39
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

I hear people from where I work tell me that availability is a problem. WHAT THE HELL. You can drive to Paris is 7 hours, how is it hard to get the same type of food as they serve there? I could see if we were a literal island, but we are SURROUNDED by countries that have those types of restaurants.
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Old 10.01.2012, 15:40
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

So you are masking (another, by the way) complaint about Switzerland as a question, interesting.

As for what you said - there is some variety but it's all very expensive, labour cost, rental and material cost are just a lot higher here than elsewhere. Jack once did a breakdown of the costs in a thread somewhere, it's just what it costs to run a restaurant. So people don't eat out that often and if it's not a general rule to eat out, then you don't need that many restaurants and with all the necessary permissions, it's not something you take a risk with.

I find the choice in Zurich to be pretty ok, it's just not as if you had a good Mexican down the road but there are some decent ones. The Swiss are not big on their seafood, so anything more than Nordsee and the market would be saturated. The Shamrock in Wollishofen and Paddy Reilly's on Talackerstrasse serve great pub food, the had a two for one offer on Mondays a while back (perfect - cheap movie night at Metropol and then pub food at Paddy's), not sure if this is still the case.

Take a look at Zürinet, there are many reviews there.
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Old 10.01.2012, 15:42
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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You can drive to Paris is 7 hours, how is it hard to get the same type of food as they serve there? I could see if we were a literal island
Switzerland IS an island. Ever heard of import quotas and prohibitive tariffs?
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Old 10.01.2012, 15:43
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

Lack of demand (expats aren't enough), lack of expertise from waves of immigration, and "a farmer knows what he likes"...
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Old 10.01.2012, 15:45
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

I'm guessing the restaurant industry is a lot more regulated here than it is in France or Italy. Also all costs are so much higher, that it leads to a circle, where people don't want to eat out because of high prices. And since people don't eat out there is no need for that much variety but still the need for the high prices to pay for the expenses..

With restaurants I believe it's very much market economy. Make good tasty food for an affordable price and people will come. I'm just not so sure how doable it's here :-)
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Old 10.01.2012, 15:45
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

Switzerland was once basically a mountainous peasant country which lacks the centuries old rich food culture of Spain, Portugal, France and Italy.

Let's face it - the basic cuisine here is stuff that can be made and stored, and eaten in a village up in the mountains and that's it.

This isn't knocking Switzerland - it's just the way it is.
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Old 10.01.2012, 15:51
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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What I don't get is the food(Restaurants). Can someone please tell me why the heck there is so little variety here?
On my part, and strictly speaking about Zurich, I found no significant lack of variety. Really. I find Zurich a quite generous city in terms of exposure and access to diverse cuisines. Some people have complained about prices (too high), variety (or lack thereof), and quality (volatile), but my experience so far has been generally positive, with a few exceptions - either through the A-Z of dining in Zurich, or through our Zurich Friday lunches, or on my own (i.e. dragging along my poor OH as a "guinea pig" to try new restaurants), I was able to find some great spots: Indonesian, Ethiopian, Lebanese, Greek, you name it, from the "hole in the wall" to the "fancier place". Caveat: I am happy to spend (considerable amounts of) money for food, if it's worth it.

Also (second caveat) I love cooking, and if I crave a certain type of food and I either can't find it or I am not particularly impressed with what I found in a restaurant, I will most definitely try and make it from scratch (chicken fried steak and homemade biscuits, anyone?). I am happy about the variety of special stores/supermarkets catering for cooks who like to experiment with different cuisines (big thanks to forum member Swisspea for helping me find many of these). You need to be persistent, and know where to look and/or keep your eyes/ears open for suggestions.

My only notable exception to the above is Japanese food: I have not been particularly impressed by any Japanese restaurant I have been to, neither in taste (nothing truly outstanding) nor in variety of available choices (nothing exceptionally creative), not for any amount of money. Being my favorite cuisine, I will admit that it is somewhat hard, and I still cannot bring myself to cook it from scratch, but since I travel abroad often enough, I can live with that and just get my Japanese fix in Germany or Italy at ease.

Now, if you are talking about a lack of cheap, readily available at all hours of day/night variety of food, then I might agree with you. Happy eating!
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Old 10.01.2012, 15:51
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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You think this is why the Swiss are so trim?
Because they're starving? I wouldn't want to eat boiled pig meat covered with cheese and boiled potatoes covered with cheese either.
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Old 10.01.2012, 15:53
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

For a city the size of Zurich there is a large selection of restaurants here. Zurich is not a metropolis like Paris or London, yet some people always insist on comparing these cities, which is a fallacy, I think.
From what I see the restaurants here are always crowded and you need to book well in advance. Looks like a thriving business to me.
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Old 10.01.2012, 15:54
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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My only notable exception to the above is Japanese food: I have not been particularly impressed by any Japanese restaurant I have been to, neither in taste (nothing truly outstanding) nor in variety of available choices (nothing exceptionally creative), not for any amount of money. Being my favorite cuisine, I will admit that it is somewhat hard, and I still cannot bring myself to cook it from scratch, but since I travel abroad often enough, I can live with that and just get my Japanese fix in Germany or Italy at ease.
Have you tried Samurai? They are pretty good and not in the same "crazy price" range as Bimi or Sala of Tokyo.

In other news, I found the thread about restaurant pricing.
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Old 10.01.2012, 15:56
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

Switzerland never had colonies or mass immigration policies that allowed free migration of people (and their cuisines) from all over the planet. Thus very little demand for ethnic food (or the knowledge of how to make it) entered the country. This has changed significantly over the past 20 years as more and more Swiss find spouses from abroad, but the process is far behind what has happened in the USA, France and the UK over the past century.

Meanwhile, the indigenous cuisine based mainly on pork, potatoes, cream and cheese (with a nod to Italian food, the only really significant people to have immigrated here) is deeply entrenched. And the Swiss hate change.

A pity in an otherwise idyllic country.
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Old 10.01.2012, 16:04
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Re: Help Me Understand the Cuisine here.....PLEASE!!

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For a city the size of Zurich there is a large selection of restaurants here. Zurich is not a metropolis like Paris or London, yet some people always insist on comparing these cities, which is a fallacy, I think.
Though I do agree one cannot compare Zürich to Paris or London, we can compare it to the sticks in Dresden or Porto which have around the same number of inhabitants. And there is NO comparisson on food choice.

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I'm guessing the restaurant industry is a lot more regulated here than it is in France or Italy.
This is a fallacy. Portugal, for example, is maybe "less developed" than France, Italy or Switzerland, and the food rules are so strict that is driving restaurant owners crazy - to the point of each knife has to have a specific colour depending on what is used for. But you still get to eat awesome specialities from all over the world, when you get tired of the local cuisine (as if!).

I heard the same speech when talking about the fire department ruling of construction (as a 3rd world country, Portugal must have pretty bad and non-existant rules, right?). It's completly wrong to assume that everything in Switzerland is more regulated and restrictive than everywhere else, and that this is a good excuse for lack of variety/originality in food/art. This is nonsense! (no offense to you, just a bit touchy on the subject).
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