Monday, May 28, 2007

A Culinary Alpine Hike

This past long weekend, we spent in Pont de Nant, Switzerland which is a lovely and rather remote spot in the Swiss Alps. The idea was to surprise my mother-in-law who was expecting a quiet weekend in the mountains. In the end there were about 25 of us all celebrating in the gorgeous, fresh mountain air. We went for a hike on Saturday that made me think of how well one would be able to survive if they had to live off the land here. First off, if you have temperate, rainy weather (it rained a lot this past weekend) you have big, big snails (that's escargot, folks!) left, right and center. Evidently, to make them edible, you must catch them and soak them in different changes of fresh water for at least a day to get all the sand out. Then they're great right out of the oven with garlic, parsley and butter.

Then with the gentiane flower (well, actually the root) you can make the famous Gentiane liquor. What you see here is a small gentiane flower, but the one you can make booze from is the "gentiana lutea" the large gentaine flower, another type from the species. I actually have no idea how one makes liquor out of it but it's available all over the Vaud region of Switzerland and probably elsewhere as well.

Finally in the late spring and throughout the summer there are berries everywhere. Here you see a wild strawberry flower that will become a strawberry within a month. After the strawberries, in July and August, there are wild raspberries to pick.

Not too shabby!


Blogger Christina said...

What fun! There's nothing like foraging. When my brother and I were little, we had elaborate plans for what to do if we ever needed to feed ourselves. Our plans included lots of wild berries and nuts. I don't think I've ever outgrown the desire to "find food" wherever I go, and it makes me smile to see that you haven't either.

6:48 AM  
Anonymous ann said...

wow! the alps and the rockies sure do have wildflowers in common! i didn't know that about gentian, i wish i had brought some roots home ;-)
i love that snail, he's so, uh, cute (if snails can be cute)

2:41 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Christina, For you this foraging has been a life-long thing, for me, just since meeting Gabriel, Super-Hiker, in 2000. Only then did I realize that hiking could be interesting.

Hi Ann, I wonder if they have giant gentiane flowers in the rockies. Hmmm... It might be fun to try one's hand at booze-making. Oh and snails are definitely cute with their shells on. They're so small and so slow that I always find myself rooting for them as if they were nature's underdog.

7:00 PM  
Blogger J at said...

Did you actually eat that nasty looking snail, or just scare it into thinking you might? (I'm not against eating snails..but preferably if they're in a mushroom cap or a ravioli or something like that. ;) )

6:54 PM  
Blogger J at said...

Oh, and wild raspberries ROCK!!!

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Paz said...

That is a big snail!


6:30 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi J, No, we didn't eat any snails but there are people who do!

Hi Paz, Yeah, all the ones we saw that weekend were the sixe of a child's fist or bigger. Crazy.

1:58 PM  

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