This specific post is an oddity mostly because I’m Italian, I realize.
If you have interacted with any of us for any length of time you know we tend do care about food. And I mean A LOT.
So, when moving to Switzerland, food was not particularly high in my list of reasons: I mean, we live a stone throw from the Italian border anyway, we can go for groceries in Italy, and so on.
What I didn’t expect was… many foodstuffs are actually better in the land of cheese and clocks! And no, I don’t mean cheese, either.
You see, Switzerland has this strange (from a European citizen POV) status: it’s in the middle of Europe, but without being part of the EU. It has free movement of citizens according to Schengen’s treaty, but not of goods. One of the many consequences of this is a slightly more protectionist internal market, with many brands, company and products that are present in Switzerland but not elsewhere.
And not just that: the confederation is trying to maintain a healthy agricultural sector, both with actual handouts (or tax cuts) to farmers (especially in the mountains) and with limits on import. This is especially true for a few products like milk and meat, which have higher prices (sometimes a lot higher) than in Italy. While this can suck, it also translates in a much more liveable farming business, stricter health and quality of life rules for cattle (mass cattle farming is illegal in Switzerland).
Another aspect is that some products have pretty small production numbers (often because there are explicit limits set from the confederation, but also simply because there’s only so much farmable land to go around), so they tend to go on the internal market: an unexpected consequence of this is that for example fruits can be harvested knowing they’ll only travel a few hundreds of kilometres at most… so they are actually picked up when ripe! Mind boggling I know.
All this foreword about international trade to say what?
Well, that meat, milk, butter, and even chicken are surprisingly good here in the Confederation!
I can actually find apricots and peaches (Peaches! Sometimes even nectarines!), generally from the Vallese Canton, that are ripe and tasty, ALMOST like those I used to eat directly from the tree when I was a kid.
Roasted chicken is an actual Swiss specialty (they use some kind of marinade and then cook it to perfection).
And butter! You see… all the milk cream in Italy (almost all of it) goes into Parmigiano making (and for good reason: Parmigiano has a huge market and nets better prices), but this means it’s really hard to get real butter in Italy. There is a product made in a different way (not by churning milk/cream) that can be legally called butter but let me tell you, as someone who saw the light after buying Swiss real butter… it’s not the same thing.
Who would have thought?