Swiss Raclette Cooking Class in the USA
Fabio was born in New York and now attending film classes at the University of Missouri, located in Kansas City (the United States). He has his family ties in Switzerland, as his father lives in Zurich and tries to be connected with his country even being abroad. Fabio likes to cook and sometimes he gather friends at the table at his house and performs a Swiss culinary arts in America. Of course SUISSEPIC could not miss the chance to know about that.
It was a touchy letter, which Fabio sent to me, so after a short thinking I dicided to post it as it was, illustrating with the pictures taken from his facebook. All the graphic and written materials hereby are published due to the author’s approval.
Photo: Maria Talanova / suissepic
“Hello to all, my name is Fabio. I am a Swiss citizen born and raised in the US. I was born in New York City, but live and attend University in Kansas City, Missouri, right in the middle of the country. I have visited Switzerland many times before as my father lives in Zürich, and I love to stay connected with my country in many ways. I receive the Swiss Review in the mail; a magazine for the Swiss abroad, I look for Swiss communities in my area, but most importantly I try my best to recreate the wonder that is Swiss food. Not many people in my area know a lot about Switzerland, but it is common understanding that fondue is a popular Swiss dish! Which is why I have so much fun showing all my American friends something they have never seen or heard of before; the Raclette!
On cold winter days here in Kansas City, I invite my friends over for dinner with the message that I have a surprise waiting. They all come to find the table is set with empty plates, small raw cutlets of steak and chicken, potatoes, large blocks of cheese, and a small grill for everyone to share. After a short demonstration on how to use the raclette, everyone becomes excited for dinner, and it becomes a fun and new experience for all at the table. The look of amazement on their faces when they see the raclette cooks the meat on top and melts the cheese on the bottom is my favorite. And once they experience the rich taste of raclette cheese carefully draped over a soft baked potato, they never fail to comment on how they have never tasted anything like it before.
Teaching my friends about raclette is one of my favorite things to do, because it gives me an opportunity to educate them on not just Swiss cuisine, but the greatness of Switzerland as a whole. Talking about raclette for me always leads to talking about the alps, cities, lakes, and everything in-between. It also generates conversation around the table, which is something that is absent from many American household dinners. Raclette allows you to wait for your food to cook in front of you, and in small portions as well. Therefore there is much conversation to be had while waiting to turn over your steak, or to see if your cheese is melted. Raclette creates a sense of family and togetherness.
In typical European fashion, even though the dinner is over, everyone stays at the table to talk. We all have a good laugh as we go around making conversation, pouring glasses of wine, and enjoying each other’s company. Raclette turns dinner into an event, an activity everyone cannot wait to participate in. They come for the raclette, but stay for the family environment that the raclette itself creates around them. By the end of the night everyone can agree that they wish to visit Switzerland someday, and that we must have raclette again soon!
Kansas City is a very diverse place with citizens from all over the world. Many of my friends are from Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Spain, France, The Philippines, and lots of other places. But for one night, we unite around the raclette, and give thanks to the good food in front of us and the great people we share it with.
The art of fondue holds a close place in my heart as well, but I was always scared to eat it, because my father has a rule that if you lose your bread in the pot you owe the whole table a bottle of wine! There is a restaurant just for fondue here in Kansas City called The Melting Pot, which originally opened in Florida. It is a cozy, intimate, basement-level dining area where the fondue pots are built into the table; surrounded by large booths to accommodate big groups of people. We also have a Swiss confiserie and cafe called André’s, where people can get their hands on real swiss chocolate.
Even though I own a raclette, I have my days where I long for Swiss food as simple as Zopf, but still I manage to remain strong until my next trip to Switzerland (which will be in a month for Christmas and Sylvester!). But I am thankful for being Swiss, and being able to share with my friends the gift that is raclette. It has brought us closer together, and has become a tradition to enjoy the delicious foods one can create while surrounding themselves with good company. I hope everyone this winter holiday season gets a chance to sit down with their family and friends to enjoy a raclette, or a fondue if they prefer! Again, here in the US it is not common to sit down for dinner without your phone and focus on the people around you. But the raclette helps bring attention to the things that hold true value in life, like the loved ones you are blessed enough to break bread with. So eat well, be healthy and happy, and enjoy the holidays!
Every day is a good day to be Swiss”.
To eat raclette in Kansas City
Melting Pot. 450 Ward Pkwy, Kansas City, MO 64112, USA