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    The smallest country in the world offers the heart of Catholicism and among the world's finest art collections, including the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms (ceiling pictured). Go to Vatican City!

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    Macedonia is a country still finding its unique identity, but its architecture is already one of a kind. Explore Macedonia!

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    Ukrainian culture is based on village life, particularly that found in the Carpathian Mountains (pictured). Begin Your Journey!

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Food, Dining, & Drinks in Switzerland

Culinary Influences

Swiss Food - Cheese and wine
Cheese and wine

Switzerland has been given more than great landscapes; they have also been given neighbors that know how to make incredible food. Switzerland is primarily made up of ethnic French, Italians, and Germans and each of these groups has maintained their traditional foods, while creating some uniquely Swiss foods.

In southern Switzerland (the Italian cantons), Italian Foods are popular, especially polenta and risotto. Likewise, in the west (French cantons) French Food rules and in the north (German cantons) German Food rules.

However, Switzerland was created by these people so first and foremost they view each other as their fellow countrymen and women before they identify with their ethnic neighbors. Because of this, all foods can be found in every part of the country and the people have created some local dishes, such as cervelat, a popular sausage, and fondue.

As a world center for many organizations, Switzerland has more recently been called home to visiting and settling foreigners who have brought with them more international cuisine. In all major cities, there are now various ethnic foods and a growing number of quick service food chains.

Staple Foods

There are no true staple foods in Switzerland due to the country's variety of food. In the Italian part of the country rice and pasta comes close to being a staple. In the German cantons the closest food to being a staple is meat or potatoes, but there are still vegetarian options, while the French cantons claim bread as their closest staple.

Regional Variations & Specialties

Regional Variations in Switzerland are too numerous to count. Due to the ethnic division between the Italians, French, and Germans among others, the people have differing tastes in foods and every canton has its own specialties and preferences as varied as the differences between Germany and Italy themselves. However there are a couple dishes which are known as uniquely "Swiss" and that have become popular throughout the country.

Chocolate: it's tough to make a bad chocolate decision in Switzerland, who can rightfully claim their position as a world leader on the food
Fondue: melted cheese eaten after dipping bread, potatoes or other foods into the melted goodness
Raclette: hot cheese dribbled over potatoes; often served with pickled fruits

Dining Etiquette

Swiss Food - Fondue
Fondue

Dining in Switzerland is based more on the ethnicity of your hosts than by anything else. Your best knowledge base is from the German Food page, French Food page, and the Italian Food page.

However, there are a few rules that should be followed with any of these companions. You should bring a gift such as chocolates or a local wine, but be careful to get a local wine. Plus, alcohol is commonly served with meals so be prepared to drink. The final commonality among all ethnicities in Switzerland is that these groups tend to be more formal in dining, from dress to manners so dress nicely and use high standard table manners.

Unfortunately, nearly everything else differs, from when to arrive and the food to what kind of alcohol will most likely be served so continue on to the German Food page, French Food page, and the Italian Food page.

Most restaurants and bars include a service charge in your bill, but if not, about 10-15% is standard in regards to tipping. When tipping at a restaurant though, never leave the money on the table, instead give the money to the server and tell them how much you want to pay (bill and tip included).

Drinks

Switzerland has a heavy bias towards milk products and this holds true with rivella, a carbonated milk-based drink. They are also well-known for their apple juices, which can be served in a number of ways and prepared both with or without alcohol. Of course if you're looking for more familiar drinks, milk, coffee, tea, and juices are all widely available.

As a crossroads of German, Italian, and French cultures, Switzerland boasts both great wines and beers; some locally produced, others imports from these neighbors. If you don't want these local products, international beers, wines, and hard liquors are all widely available.

Generally speaking, the tap water is safe to drink in Switzerland, but check with locals for any particular regional differences. Also, many people may have troubles adjusting to the local tap water, as it will most certainly be different from what your system is used to.

This page was last updated: March, 2013