Sunday, June 21, 2009

In der Schweiz: a land of many cultures

After my time in Italy, I made two stops in Switzerland, in the south and north, respectively.  My visit in Mendrisio was very interesting because it is located in Ticino (Tessin), which is the southernmost canton of Switzerland, and thus made it similar culturally to Italy. (For those that don't know, it is interesting to note that Switzerland has four official languages: Italian, French, German, and Romansh, the latter is a romance language that is derived from Latin and is being spoken less and less.) Because of its location, I ate a lot of pasta, pizza, and foccocia-like foods while in Mendrisio and the surrounding area.

To be honest, this is probably not an area where one would spend an entire weekend on a vacation, but I enjoyed being shown many of the surrounding villages both in the valleys and up in the mountains.  My friend and I even braved the cold and rainy weather one afternoon to visit an UNESCO world heritage castle in Bellinzona.

My visit north was quite different because I was in a bigger city, though Basel is by far not the biggest city in Switzerland.  The biggest shock to me in Basel was the language.  Even though they speak German there, it is an entirely different dialect.  I had learned about Schweizer Deutsch in the University, but hearing it was another thing entirely. Despite the fact that it was German, I could not understand very much of it at all. (Luckily, I can take comfort in the fact that native German speakers themselves have a hard time understanding the Swiss dialect until they themselves have lived there for some time.) I was still able to use my German (Hochdeutsch) to understand maps and menus in restaurants.

The food in Basel was a big change from the south because of obvious Germanic influences.  (Also, the Turkish imbisss and restaurants were much more prevalent here.)  After I saw much of the town by wandering around all morning and early afternoon, I had an early dinner at a vegetarian restaurant, which wasn't far from where I was staying. Tibits is an all-vegetarian buffet, which has vegan items clearly marked.  I wasn't very impressed by the few hot vegan options available, but around half of the chilled grain and other salads were vegan. However, the highlight of my meal was the Sauerkirsch Tortchen (sour cherry mini tart) that I bought separately for dessert.

Since the food was decent, and there was a wide selection, I also visited for breakfast the next morning before I left. A morning brunch was advertised, but the vegan options were very slim.  I wasn't too disappointed however since I chose to have a simple breakfast of a spelt croissant and an apple pocket that was available from the bar.  Sandwiches to go were also available near the register, and I was not disappointed with the white asparagus (Spargel in German, which is a really fun word to say, by the way), bean sprout, and tomato with a mustard sauce one that I ate later on my train to Germany.

2 comments: said...

I just blogged about the tibits in London! It looks like the one you visited had much better dessert options, that cherry tart looks amazing.

Mihl said...

I definitely want to go to Switzerland one day. It's a shame I've never been there before. That little Törtchen looks fantastic!