As Yummy As It Gets

The best thing about Switzerland is the food. And the best thing about the food is a Luxemburgerli from Sprüngli’s. You might think it’s a macaron but it’s not, believe you me. I’ve had macarons, plenty, even those hysterically cherished ones from Ladurée, and I had them from Ladurée in Paris, on rue Bonaparte, so don’t tell me the taste was probably just affected by transportation, say a long-distance flight to Sydney, Cape Cod or Kyoto or where ever you picture me misjudging Ladurée’s famous delights, no, even those iconic French macarons are nothing in comparison. Nothing compares to a Luxemburgerli. Nothing. Actually, it makes macarons obsolete. Sad excuses for a sweet. You better take the next flight to Zurich and make it to Paradeplatz as quickly as you possibly can. If only I could do the same, but I promised to show up at my parents’ place this Easter weekend…

Dieting while at dessert.

One day, it must have been spring, I decided to lose some weight. You have to be slim for slim cut shirts. So, I had to find a way to eat less, at least for dessert, I had tried to have no dessert at all, but this didn’t work out well, it just made me cranky, and so, in order to keep some of my friends, I tried to eat just half of my crème brûlée or my panna cotta or whatever I was having for dessert, but this didn’t work out either. You cannot stop in the middle of something, can you? What idiotic concept is this? I then tried tiny portions. For instance, these ridiculously small things from Sprüngli. They made me burst out into tears. They seemed to mock me. So I gave up desserts altogether. Cold turkey. Now, I’m unbearably cranky, but quite slim.

Longevity for dessert.

Yoghurt is said to be responsible for the long lives of the Greek, and it’s recommended after taking antibiotics, so obviously it has a lot of healthy qualities, but eaten pure it lacks a bit of, well, a lot. It’s a bit dreary. Yoghurt needs something special to bring out its flavour, some contrast, some refinement, just like Cinderella needed all that glitter to make that prince fall in love with her. I like yoghurt best with raspberries, lots of raspberries, the frozen ones are suited best, because they develop a beautiful red juice when defrosting that compliments the whiteness of the yoghurt—by the way, the richer, thicker and creamier a yoghurt, the better. Sugar, some minced apples and a generous serving of calvados, all mixed together are great, too. I invented that dessert when I was eleven but wasn’t allowed to eat it until I turned eighteen. And then, there is yoghurt with walnuts and honey, which brings us back to the Greek and their long lives filled with great desserts. Having said that, I’m really glad about the grexit no longer being an issue.

A raspberry’s purpose in life.

If I were a raspberry, I would hope to end up on a tiny little cake by Sprüngli. You don’t live long when you’re born a berry, you grow, you get plucked, you get devoured. Hence, it is of the utmost importance to achieve some importance, to make yourself heard, to be recognized as the wonderful individual that you are and make yourself unforgettable. You have to rise from the raspberry fields and seize culinary power in Zurich, if you play it right, you end up on Sprüngli’s Himbeertorte before you get eaten by some self-styled gourmet, just like Napoleon rose through the ranks of the military, seized political power and crowned himself emperor of France before he was devoured by Europe.

How to serve toffee.

My great-grandmother was a great influence on me, although I never met her. But I get it from stories my mother who adored her has told me. My favourite one, and the most impressive, gives a wonderful example of what it takes to be cultivated, and maybe more of what a certain upbringing does to you and your morale. She was very particular about the way a table was set. As a middle aged woman, long before the war, I’m talking World War II, she indulged in style, decorated her house beautifully, with no trouble apart from striving for perfection on a daily basis, she would give orders to the few servants she had, and was known for her splendid dinner parties. But it wasn’t just the times and circumstances that made her the lady that she was and to bring her daughter up to be one too in the future, meaning to instruct my grandmother, then a young girl, never to take too much sugar with tea, what unthinkable intemperance, regardless of my grandmother’s sweet tooth of course, to force her to sit at the dinner table as if she had swallowed a broomstick and to introduce her to the effects of alcohol, a young lady’s demeanour and virtue mustn’t be compromised by a glass of wine, let alone three, it was her composure, her absolute restraint in everything she did. This would actually not be a story if she hadn’t had to adapt to war times. First of all, that dinner table got lost in ruins, bombs smashed it to pieces, and after the war was over, there was not much food to serve. But no war could ever impinge on her dinner celebrations, anything had to meet her demands, it was like an obsession with her. My family was happy to have anything at all, potatoes were a luxury, there weren’t any oysters to sprinkle with lemon juice, meat on the table would be conceived as a mirage, a fata morgana, but she would never eat up, even in these days, she would leave something behind on her plate, always, whatever it was, however humble a meal had been prepared, she would leave something to be thrown away, for one could get the impression she’d been hungry, and hunger, oh dear, what a vulgar sensation, how weak a character one would be to adapt to a life in ruins, she might have thought, and so she did not. Never. How absurd, and yet, quelle contenance. I think of her, each time I want to eat something right off the box, like these toffees. And then, I take a beautiful plate or dish, and one of the antique glasses for the sherry instead of the dishwasher safe ones, and enjoy life her style. God bless her.

The Chocolate Diet

If you want to gain weight, for whatever reasons, do the following: buy three packages of assorted chocolates, pick your favourites from each package, arrange them casually in a bowl and serve them with at least four episodes of any show interesting enough to make you stay put in front of the TV no matter what happens or who’s at the door. Wash each chocolate down with a generous helping of non-skimmed milk, Baileys or, why not, some banana milkshake. Repeat. Bon appétit and bonne chance!

Midnight Chocolate

When God came up with cocoa beans, he must have been in a very good mood. Cocoa beans are the best beans there are—sorry, Heinz, no offence, but your bean cans were portrayed by Andy Warhol, this is as far as your fifteen minutes of fame go. Anyway, cocoa beans are so very rich in healthy flavonoids, but more importantly, without cocoa beans there was no chocolate, and without chocolate there were no chocolate glazed marzipan cakes, especially the one in my fridge (keeping it in the fridge is important to make the thick chocolate glaze as crunchy as possible), the one I just devoured out of sheer lust. And now I am in such a good mood, the best of moods, actually, just like God himself the day he came up with cocoa beans.