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Swiss cuisine is influenced by French, German and Northern Italian cuisine, as well as by the history of Switzerland as a primarily agricultural country. As a result, many traditional Swiss dishes tend to be relatively plain and are made from basic ingredients, such as potatoes and Swiss cheese. The great cultural diversity within Switzerland is also reflected in the great number of regional or local specialties.
Well-known Swiss dishes include raclette and fondue (molten cheese eaten with bread or potatoes), rösti (fried grated potatoes), muesli (an oatmeal breakfast dish) and Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (veal and mushrooms on a cream sauce).
There are many regional dishes in Switzerland. One example is Zürcher Geschnetzeltes, thin strips of veal with mushrooms in a cream sauce typically served with rösti. Italian cuisine is popular in contemporary Switzerland, particularly pasta and pizza. Foods often associated with Switzerland include particular types of cheese and milk chocolate. Swiss cheeses, in particular Emmental, Gruyère, Vacherin, and Appenzeller, are famous Swiss products. The most popular cheese dishes are fondue and raclette. Both these dishes were originally regional dishes, but were popularized by the Swiss Cheese Union to boost sales of cheese.
Rösti is a popular potato dish that is eaten all over Switzerland. It was originally a breakfast food, but this has been replaced by the muesli, which is commonly eaten for breakfast and in Switzerland goes by the name of "Birchermüesli" ("Birchermiesli" in some regions). For breakfast and dinner many Swiss enjoy sliced bread with butter and jam. There is a wide variety of bread rolls available in Switzerland. Bread and cheese is a popular dish for dinner.
Tarts and quiches are also traditional Swiss dishes. Tarts in particular are made with all sorts of toppings, from sweet apple to onion.
In the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, the Ticino area, one will find a type of restaurant unique to the region. The Grotto is a rustic eatery, offering traditional food ranging from pasta to homemade meat specialties. Popular dishes are Luganighe and Luganighetta, a type of artisan sausages. Authentic grottoes are old wine caves re-functioned into restaurants. Due to their nature they are mostly found in or around forests and built against a rocky background. Typically, the facade is built from granite blocks and the outside tables and benches are made of the same stone as well. Grottoes are popular with locals and tourists alike, especially during the hot summer months.
In the 2005 Michelin Guide, Switzerland ranked 2nd worldwide in terms of stars awarded per capita.
Rivella, a carbonated Swiss drink based on lactose, is one of the most popular drinks in Switzerland. Apple juice, both still and sparkling, is popular in many areas of Switzerland, and is also produced in the form of apple cider. The chocolate drink Ovomaltine (known in the USA as "Ovaltine") originates in Switzerland and enjoys ongoing popularity, particularly with young people. Aside from being a beverage, the powder is also eaten sprinkled on top of a slice of buttered bread.
Wine is produced in many regions of Switzerland, particularly the Valais, the Vaud, the Ticino, Neuchâtel and the canton of Zurich. Riesling X Sylvaner is a common white wine produced in German-speaking parts of the country, while Chasselas is the most common white wine in the French-speaking parts of the country. Pinot noir is the most popular red grape in both the French-speaking and the German-speaking part, while this position is held by Merlot in the Italian-speaking part.
Absinthe is being distilled officially again in its Val-de-Travers birthplace, in the Jura region of Switzerland, where it originated. Long banned by a specific anti-Absinthe article in the Swiss Federal Constitution, it was legalized again in 2005, with the adoption of the new constitution. Now Swiss absinthe is also exported to many countries, with Kübler and La Clandestine Absinthe amongst the first new brands to emerge. Wine and beer can legally be purchased by youths of 16 or more years of age. Spirits and beverages containing distilled alcohol (including wine coolers like Bacardi Breezer) can be bought at 18.
Damassine is a liqueur produced by distillation of the Damassine prune from the Damassinier tree and is produced in the canton of Jura.
Bon Pere William is a famous regional Swiss brandy produced from pears, alcohol 43% by volume. It is usually paired with fondue or raclette dishes or taken after dinner, sometimes poured in coffee with dessert. Some bottles are available with the full size pear inside the bottle, grown with the bud placed in the bottle. There are many other types of regional brandies made from local fruit, the most popular being cherries (kirschwasser).
Switzerland has the seventh highest per capita coffee consumption worldwide.