World Food Alphabet - The A's
In today’s interconnected world, it is easy to find people from every corner of the world in a single city. In this project, I want to get a taste of every country in the world, without even leaving Switzerland.
One of the many reasons I love to travel is the diversity of food that exists in this world.
Growing up with parental roots in Switzerland as well as Malaysia, I got to taste a variety of Southeast Asian and European food from early on. And my preference for exotic food certainly didn’t decrease once I started to travel more. From puffin meat in Iceland, to Hungarian beef stew and Malaysian Roti Canai, I’ve tried a lot of things so far, but still only scratched the surface. There are thousands and thousands of specialities from hundreds of countries, more than I possibly could eat in a lifetime. But that doesn’t stop me from trying as much as I can.
A as in Afghanistan
First on the list is a restaurant named Kutchi, located quite the opposite of “around the corner”. A three hour train ride took me and my girlfriend all the way from Zurich down to Geneva, where we feasted on plates of Narenj Palaw, a rice dish with saffron, oranges and almonds, sided by a chicken leg. I’ve eaten a lot of meals with rice over the years and honestly, rice isn’t high up in the list of my favorite side dishes. Nevertheless, the combination of orange peel and saffron made it taste quite different to anything I’ve had before. In addition to the delicious meal, the restaurant offered an enjoyable atmosphere with beautiful decoration.
A as in Albania
Two weeks after we had dinner at the Afghan restaurant, we went to a nearby Albanian restaurant called Victoria Fahrweid, a mixture of bakery and restaurant. For the price of eight Swiss Francs (which is a really cheap dinner here in Switzerland), I got a plate of Sujuk, spicy sausages cut open and served with salad and different kind of sauces. The restaurant itself was rather busy, having had a full house throughout our stay. It seemed like a popular place for younger people grabbing a bite to eat before going out.
A as in Australia
Number three in alphabetical order would actually belong to Argentina, but we decided on a whim to go to Australia because it was closer. The restaurant, not the country. I’ve been to the Outback Lodge a couple of times before and while it certainly is not a typical restaurant you would encounter in Australia itself, it offers a variety of meat from domestic animals. On the menu are dishes made from emu, crocodile or, of course, kangaroo. I decided to go for a parrot fish curry with “Down Under fries” (basically just normal crispy fries that you get in most fast food restaurants) and a Coopers Pale Ale. It was a fine dinner, as always, but apart from the tasty (and quite exotic) food, it isn’t particularly different to other restaurants. Also the service is sometimes a bit slow, as we had to wait almost an hour for our food to arrive.
A as in Argentina
Catching up on the list, my choice of restaurant for Argentina is situated in the heart of Lucerne, one of Switzerland’s most popular tourist destinations. Just a five minute walk from the lakeside sits the El Rincón Argentino, a restaurant owned and run by an Argentinian family.
And what could one expect from an Argentinian restaurant? That’s right, meat. On the restaurant’s menu card it said “Save the vegetables, eat meat!” and that’s exactly what they deliver. The beef tenderloin that I ordered was, although pricy, an excellent choice.
The only flaw that evening was a group of people, celebrating their high school reunion in an expectably loud and noisy fashion. In a restaurant seating only around 24 people, having 12 of them shouting and laughing at the top of their voices doesn’t contribute to the otherwise relaxed atmosphere.
A as in Austria
Last in the list of countries starting with the letter A is Austria. Despite being our neighbouring country, there aren't many restaurants serving Austrian specialties. The one we chose for finishing off the A's is restaurant Hofwiesen close to Zurich. From the outside, it looked like a plain and unremarkable building, but inside was a stylish interior which reminded me somewhat of a furniture shop. It certainly didn’t look like an Austrian restaurant, apart from the waiter who wore traditional Lederhosen and spoke with a strong Tyrolean accent.
When I think of Austrian food, three things come to my mind: Wiener Schnitzel, Knödel (dumplings) and Schmarrn (kind of a shredded pancake). You can get Wiener Schnitzel almost in any restaurant and I’ve had that way too often in my life. I therefore decided to get some dumplings with a mushroom cream sauce, although the right description should have been the other way round.
Dumplings definitely aren’t my favorite dish, due to them not having a strong taste on their own, but together with the mushroom sauce I really liked it.
All in all, this new project has been refreshing and I’d like to see where it leads over the course of the remaining letters. And if anyone knows a restaurant with A not listed above, please let me know.