Chocolate Banks and Cheeses at Full Throttle

Posted by at 14:00

I do not dislike Switzerland, but we got off to a bad start. It all began with my stamp collection, which I mentioned previously.  I wasted quite a few hours trying to find Helvetia on the map, only to discover that this was the Latin name for Switzerland.

My second brush with Switzerland came with the classic comic album Asterix in Switzerland by Goscinny & Uderzo. The heroes, Asterix and Obelix, are sent to the Alps to pick edelweiss and end up at a Roman orgy where people are punished for dropping their bread in the fondue. This made a deep impression on me at the time and, to this day, whenever we eat fondue and someone drops their bread, we jokingly threaten to beat them, whip them or throw them in the lake. Only later did I realise that it was the Romans who were doing the beating, whipping and throwing, while the poor Helvetian servants were trying to keep the place clean.

cuckoo clockThis was followed by the Saga of the Swiss Army Knife That Came Too Late. It was one of those big ones with twenty different implements, including scissors, a magnifying glass and, bizarrely, a plastic toothpick. I’d wanted this knife since I was nine or ten. I eventually got it when I graduated from high school at the age of seventeen. But by then it was too late, because the status of the knife had diminished from “object of immense pride and joy” to “utility item”.
And then there was Orson Welles, who delivered one of my favourite movie lines of all time in The Third Man. His character, Harry Lime, gives the following scathing commentary on Switzerland: “In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed – but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

Now I know all that is a little unfair, so I decided to call in the help of some Facebook friends, hoping that they would surgically remove my prejudice and convince me that Switzerland is more than just banks, mountains, watches, skiing, fondue and Roger Federer.

I was wrong. Here are some of their replies to my question: “What are the first few words that come to mind when I say: Switzerland”

“Why don’t they use the Euro!”
“Chocolate, fondue, banks, army, mountains.”
“Is N’Kufo/Heidi really Swiss?”
“Stuck in the Gotthard Tunnel.”
“Fondue, watches, Lindt, Alps, Heidi.”
“Autobahnvignet, Fake, Cell, SF700 fine.”
“Heidi, chocolate, banks, watches, referendum.”
“It’s a funny word, Switzerland.”
“Cheese, bank vaults, edelweiss, mountains.”
“Souped-up Mercs at full throttle.”
“Hopp Schwizz!”
“Schnitzel, Sauber, penknives, steeples, no minarets.”
“I would have to say, cheese.”
“Birds don’t sh*t there!”
“Fondue, mountains, skiing, chocolate and I-am-going-there-in-three-weeks’-time!”
“Cuckoo, crossbow, neutrality and hotel schools”
“Spengler Cup, skiing, chocolate, watches.”
“Barbecues (apparently they are world champs).”
“Cheese, chocolate, cowbells, mountains, snow.”
“Just reading the word Zurich makes your wallet lighter.”
“Neutrality, chocolate, snow, banks, Red Cross.”
“Organised, cold, mountains, expensive, beautiful.”
“Yodel ay ee oo oo.”

Well, after that avalanche of chocolate, cheese, cuckoo clocks and other gross stereotypes, I am quietly hoping that some kind Swiss readers will drop in and change our minds, tell us something we don’t know about Switzerland. Like, what’s so funny about “bündnerfleisch”?

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30 Responses to Chocolate Banks and Cheeses at Full Throttle

  1. Schaggi Schtreuli

    Thanks Good no EU,so we still have our strong Swiss-Franc…….hehhehehe :))))))

    • Dubois

      “Strong”? We’ll see for how long. ;-p
      That aside: Bündnerfleisch isn’t fun, it’s tasty. :)
      What more to say about Switzerland… Grüezi? Skiing? Some of the best jet fighter pilots in this world? Guggemusik?
      Or, my favourite from an Australian Comedian: “Over there in Australia, we’ve got the Outback. Over here, you have Kanton Argau.” That’s the first thing i have to think of when i think of Switzerland. ;)

      • Richard

        Guggemusik? Sounds intriguing. Link us up, Dubois!

  2. Schaggi Schtreuli

    Thanks Good no EU,so we still have our strong Swiss-Franc…….hehhehehe :))))))

    • Dubois

      “Strong”? We’ll see for how long. ;-p
      That aside: Bündnerfleisch isn’t fun, it’s tasty. :)
      What more to say about Switzerland… Grüezi? Skiing? Some of the best jet fighter pilots in this world? Guggemusik?
      Or, my favourite from an Australian Comedian: “Over there in Australia, we’ve got the Outback. Over here, you have Kanton Argau.” That’s the first thing i have to think of when i think of Switzerland. ;)

      • Richard

        Guggemusik? Sounds intriguing. Link us up, Dubois!

  3. Annekeray

    I think “Mountains” when I think about Switzerland.

  4. Annekeray

    I think “Mountains” when I think about Switzerland.

  5. Krot7

    Nazi`s Suskind

    • Richard

      There’s a movie out about Süskind, isn’t there?

  6. Krot7

    Nazi`s Suskind

    • Richard

      There’s a movie out about Süskind, isn’t there?

  7. Hecate

    No-one mentioned Calvin? Beady-eyed theologian, not small cartoon boy or elegantly dishevelled designer? My two over-riding impressions of Geneva (very banal, I’m afraid): clean; expensive. Which didn’t prevent me from having a delicious cheap plat d’jour in a working-class diner, even if I had to walk miles to find it. And the spotless nunnery where I spent the night was even cheaper, even if the curfew was 9pm.

    • Richard

      Suddenly I see small groups of nuns scouring working-class Genevan neighbourhoods in search of cheap plats du jour. By force of habit, or course.

  8. Hecate

    No-one mentioned Calvin? Beady-eyed theologian, not small cartoon boy or elegantly dishevelled designer? My two over-riding impressions of Geneva (very banal, I’m afraid): clean; expensive. Which didn’t prevent me from having a delicious cheap plat d’jour in a working-class diner, even if I had to walk miles to find it. And the spotless nunnery where I spent the night was even cheaper, even if the curfew was 9pm.

    • Richard

      Suddenly I see small groups of nuns scouring working-class Genevan neighbourhoods in search of cheap plats du jour. By force of habit, or course.

  9. Retinhoo

    The cuckoo clock is actually German…

    • Richard

      We’ll need proof, I’m afraid, Retinhoo.

  10. Retinhoo

    The cuckoo clock is actually German…

    • Richard

      We’ll need proof, I’m afraid, Retinhoo.

  11. Lion_queen

    Geneva, champagne, daughter

    • Richard

      Three costly quantities.

  12. Lion_queen

    Geneva, champagne, daughter

    • Richard

      Three costly quantities.

  13. mStudios

    You ought to be a Swiss to understand. Just as you need to be an American to manage to have the viewpoint that America is the best country, ever… even though you’ve never set a foot outside.

    Yes, I am a Swiss and will remain that obviously in my heart even thogh I am married for over 13 years in te US.

    What are the first few words that comes to mind when I say America?

    Cheeseburger, Facebook, TV, Cowboys, Reality TV and Lady Gaga.

    • Richard

      And what are the things about Switzerland you miss most?

  14. mStudios

    You ought to be a Swiss to understand. Just as you need to be an American to manage to have the viewpoint that America is the best country, ever… even though you’ve never set a foot outside.

    Yes, I am a Swiss and will remain that obviously in my heart even thogh I am married for over 13 years in te US.

    What are the first few words that comes to mind when I say America?

    Cheeseburger, Facebook, TV, Cowboys, Reality TV and Lady Gaga.

    • Richard

      And what are the things about Switzerland you miss most?

  15. John Briggs

    Switzerland is a wonderful country, we holiday there quit often, the “high” prices keep the lager swilling louts away so you can have a very peaceful and relaxing holiday. It is also about the cleanest country I’ve ever seen. A word of warning, never turn up late and hope your train will still be there, this is not BR the Swiss trains run on time whatever the weather.
    J

  16. John Briggs

    Switzerland is a wonderful country, we holiday there quit often, the “high” prices keep the lager swilling louts away so you can have a very peaceful and relaxing holiday. It is also about the cleanest country I’ve ever seen. A word of warning, never turn up late and hope your train will still be there, this is not BR the Swiss trains run on time whatever the weather.
    J

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