Let me tell you about Switzerland. More than ever before, this country strikes me as the land of milk and honey. You know, the promised land, in the Bible? And it litterally is a little paradise, full of, well, milk, you guessed it, and not just any milk, but milk from Happy Cows, grazing in mountains and fields that are untouched, non genetically modified, cows that have bells around their necks... and some of the milk is raw, not from a farm such as Organic Pastures, but from the farmer next door, from whom you bought your freshly extracted milk that same morning...
And with that milk of course, comes the butter, the cheese, the chocolate, the cream, in all possible forms and variations of it. As for the honey, you have not tasted honey like this. It is so good, so tasty, and of course, so raw, because really, the beehives are in the field next to the forest, or in your neighbor's backyard, and as my mom told me when I asked her if the honey I was eating was raw: "All honey is raw".
My parents' garden
Switzerland, in all its beauty, isn't perfect, though. When I left, 11 years ago, after some adjustment time in the States, I found America very refreshing. There is a freedom and a creativity in the States, an openness, spontaneity and diversity that allows anyone to find their little niche, their little place in society. You can find your passion, develop your ideas, pursue your dreams, and be very successful. In Switzerland, it's a different story. There is a protocole to everything, mostly one way to do things, rules and regulations, limitations, order, discipline. But with that, there are also values, traditions maintained, land protected, food regulations and landscape regulations... I realized this time around that the narrow mindedness I am usually struck by when I go home provides a different kind of freedom and quality of life. The reason why Switzerland is so beautiful, so preserved, so safe, is because they have a system in place. It is rigid, and definitely not very conducive to the development of creative and "out of the box" ideas, but it has protected this land, its values, its traditions, its landscape. You can't just do whatever you want.
I have enjoyed the freedom that has allowed me to develop my creativity, open up my own business and be inspired by all sorts of creative people. But I am also getting fed up with the lack of clear boundaries around food and agriculture regulations, the medical system, society in general. The lack of values and traditions, the way we rape the land in this country... It appears to me that if you want safety, it costs you freedom, and if you want freedom, it costs you safety. I wish I could have it all, but I live in the in between, longing for one when I have the other, and vice versa. Loving both, yet hating aspects of both.
Living with that tension is not easy. For about three weeks though, I decided to enjoy all I could about my homeland, and these are the little treasures I cherished:
The respect of nature and beauty. Wherever there is a view, there is a bench, a picnic table, a chair for you to sit on and admire. There are agricultural zones where it is forbidden to build new constructions, in order to preserve the landscape and the old buildings. Old stones have a story to tell and they maintain the spirit of Switzerland, they retain history. Cows have bells around their neck, just for the heck of it, because it adds to the charm of the scene...
Manners and values. People are polite, considerate. A bit shy and for some, seemingly cold, but if you smile at them and engage in conversation about their country, their traditions, people open up and loosen up with a smile. They take much pride in their land and its beauty.
Long meals, sharing good wines and foods with good friends around the table. In my country, eating is not just to feed the body. There really is a ritual around food, a communion, a way of fellowship, that I strive to maintain in LA, with my family and with our community. If you have eaten at my table, you hopefully know what I am talking about.
Alphorn players and swiss bakery in Zermatt
Les Halles, covered market in Nimes. Olives, garlic and prosciuttos, yes please!
Food places in the streets of Nimes
There is nothing like a french croissant dipped in hot chocolate!
Caquelon camembert and bacon. I did not eat that, this was my husband's :)
Octopus and squid
The best way to cook a chicken!
The butcher in Anduze
Sardines on the grill
with my brother's out of this world ratatouille and a glass of Costieres de Nimes, divine!
Enough said, I hope you have enjoyed these pictures of the beautiful and delicious things we enjoyed, before I go back to my healthy and hopefully inspirational lifestyle. I might need to write a post about cleansing and detoxing ;)