Sunday, August 19, 2012

Milk and Honey


I have been rather silent over here, over the last few weeks. I have been missing my little blog and my mind has been buzzing with ideas and things I want to talk about. I was away for almost a month, visiting my family and home country over summer break. What a wonderful experience it was! I know this is a food blog, but I would like to share with you a little bit of my experience and why this trip was particularly special for me this year. Of course, I enjoyed all sorts of food that I don't necessarily miss anymore, but if you put them in front of me, in such a beautiful setting, let me tell you that all the good resolutions go out the window pretty quickly. After all, this was vacation, and there is a time for indulging and enjoying. And that is exactly what I did.

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...


Hot chocolate with raw milk

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".

 Cream Budwig

My parents' garden



So, for me who has been freaked out about the GMOs in America, and who has been striving to eat a healthy, organic, mostly raw diet, this was a little slice of heaven. Not to mention the fresh air you breathe, the breathtaking views of the lakes and the mountains, and the overall kindness and simplicity of the Swiss people who have values, traditions, manners, all of which were extremely refreshing to experience this time around.

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.


                                                                         Little wine tasting place and Lavaux vineyard



Needless to say, all sorts of things made it into my plate, and to my palate's delight, into my mouth. The beautiful swiss wines, the cheeses, the breads (oh, the breads! I don't normally eat gluten but I couldn't resist the whole grain breads there), the chocolate, the yogourts, the honey... I have definitely paid the price in terms of health, my body struggling to assimilate some of these, and I am coming home with a couple extra pounds, but it was well worth it :) Most of these foods were whole foods, clean and organic.
Alphorn players and swiss bakery in Zermatt





Fondue!


In the South of France, where we spent a few days with my brother and his family, I enjoyed fresh fish, olives, tapenade, cheese, prosciutto, melon, croissants, baguettes, honey... I must admit, I was a little shocked by the amount of bread the French eat. It France, it's mostly white bread, but who can resist a freshly baked baguette for less than a dollar?


                           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 :)


                                                                       Tapas!

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 ;)










2 comments:

  1. OMG Alexine c'est trop beau et j'imagine les goûts! Ymmmmmmmm!

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  2. Loved reading this post and looking at all the amazing photos. Switzerland is beautiful!

    ReplyDelete