10 Things I Learned About Food From a Swiss Grandmother
My recent trip to Switzerland with my boyfriend brought me to his grandmother’s house. In an old farmhouse with a garden, a wood oven, and a ceiling so low that I hit my 6’0″ tall head a few times.
I ate three square meals a day, sitting down at a table. (Can this be real?) When I stumbled down the stairs in the morning, the breakfast table would be set with plates, napkins, silverware, hot tea, milk, yogurt, cheese, fresh-made jam, honey, bread and museli. Did I die and go to heaven? No, I was still alive in Switzerland at a grandmother’s house.
- Sit down for meals with family. This is becoming less common in our society because everyone is too busy to enjoy their meal sitting down at a table. It would be a shame to miss out on the great bonding experience that is sharing a meal together. Even if you don’t speak the same language, whether it’s you and your 13-year-old daughter or me and a Swiss grandmother, you can still share a meal.
- Garden. If you don’t plant it, it’s not going to grow. Even if you know nothing about gardening, planting some fresh herbs is a small thing you can do to add flavor to your food. There is nothing like fresh vegetables picked from a garden. I know “local” is trendy, but your back yard is as local as it gets. And what do you do when you have too many fruits or vegetables? You start pickling and canning of course!
- Compost. Trash is trash, but food waste can be used to make your garden grow.
- Use only fresh ingredients. Don’t let things sit in your refrigerator for years and years. I love the European refrigerator…that’s because it’s so small. Small refrigerators force you to work fresh. Once you learn how to cook without processed foods and a microwave, you’ll wonder why it took you so long.
- Eat breakfast. A good breakfast can change your day. If you don’t have time to eat breakfast, make time. Take it one step further and eat breakfast with your family instead of in your car.
- Work efficiently and clean. Only use what you need. When you have a small kitchen, you are forced to work efficiently, but even if your kitchen is large, don’t waste or make a huge unnecessary mess. In America, things are always getting bigger because we have so much space. Try to make things smaller.
- Be thankful for what you have. Respect your food because not everyone in this world is lucky enough to have it.
- Don’t forget how food makes people feel. It is a connection between people. Just like a smile, food is a universal language, even if you don’t speak the same one. Feed others: it makes them happy. If you’re a professional cook, never lose sight of the heart of your job.
- Hot food goes on a hot plate. Just as in a restaurant, hot food will stay hotter if it’s served on a hot plate. Small efforts go a long way. It’s the little things that show you care.
- Put love into your food. People notice. Cooking with love is more important than having the best knife or the best cookware. You don’t need to be the most technical cook, just be the most caring.