Amid Zurich’s iconic churches and strikingly blue lake lie dozens of pubs and taverns that have been maintained for hundreds of years. Many serve up Swiss classics like raclette, rösti (fried potato pancakes), and Zürcher geschnetzeltes (veal in cream sauce), often gussied up as gastropub fare. The majority of Swiss food production is focused on the dairy industry (local produce isn’t a strong suit), so the city indulges in cheeses like raclette, vacherin, and Gruyere; high-quality butter; and dairy-rich chocolate.
However, the city is also an excellent place to shift your conceptions about European and specifically Swiss cuisine as static. Especially in the last century, the food of Switzerland has become reflective of the many peoples who have made it their home. Like the rest of Europe, Zurich has had waves of migration alter its demographics (even if mainstream media is only just starting to pay attention). In addition to a sizable population with ties to Italy, which neighbors Switzerland, Zurich boasts significant communities from Bosnia, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Ethiopia, Vietnam, and Thailand, and those peoples have made their foods part of the city’s gastronomic landscape.
Whether you’re in Zurich for hiking and skiing in the nearby Alps, or coming to wander through the city’s famed Gothic architecture, make some extra time to fuel up well.
N.A. Mansour is a historian of books, art and religion who writes about food and culture.Read More