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Last updated : Nov 2009
Switzerland Social Profile
Switzerland Culture and Social Profile -
Food & Drink

Swiss cuisine is diverse. The great speciality is fondue, a delicious concoction of Vacherin and Gruyère cheese, melted and mixed with white wine, flour, Kirsch and a little garlic. Other cheese specialities are Tête de Moineand Emmental. Regional specialities include viande sechée (dried pork or beef) from Valais and the Grisons where it is called Bündnerfleisch. The meat is cut thin and served with pickled spring onions and gherkins.

Papet vaudoir is a very appetizing dish made from leeks and potatoes. Geneva’s great speciality is pieds de porc (the pigs' feet). Pork sausages or salami come in variety of local recipes including Beinwurst, Engadinerwurst, Knackerli, Kalbsleberwurst (calf’s liver pâté), Leberwurst (pâté) and Landjäger. Try Rösti (shredded fried potatoes) and Fondue Bourguignonne (cubed meat with different sauces).

Cakes and pastries are also wide-ranging: Leckerli are Basel specialities (spiced honey cakes topped with icing sugar, decorated in Bern with white sugar bear); Fasnachtküchli (sugar dusted pastries eaten during the Carnival), Gugelhopf (a type of sponge cake with a hollow centre) and Schaffhausen (cream filled cakes) are also very popular. Although there are many self service snack bars, table service is normal.

Wonderful selections of Swiss wines are available throughout the country. There are also spirits made from fruit, the most popular being Marc, Kirsch, Pflümli and Williams. Swiss beer of lager type is also available. Bottled mineral water is an accepted beverage, with local brands including Passuger and Henniez. Bars/cocktail lounges have table and/or counter service.


Most major towns and resorts have discos or nightclubs with music and dancing, sometimes serving food. There are also theatres and cinemas , and some bars and restaurants have local folk entertainment.


Special purchases include linen and embroidery, Bernese woodcarving, chocolate, cheese, Swiss army knives and luxury handmade clocks and watches.

Shopping hours: Monday-Friday 0800-1200 and 1330-1830, Saturday 0800-1200 and 1330-1600.

Most of the shops are closed on Monday mornings.

Social Conventions

It is very normal to give unwrapped flowers to the hostess when invited for a meal. Avoid red roses; never give chrysanthemums or white asters as they are considered as funeral flowers. Informal wear is acceptable. First-class restaurants, hotel dining rooms and important social occasions may require one to have jackets and ties. Black tie is usually specified when it is required.


A service charge is included in all hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, taxis and hairdressing services by law; further gratuities are not usually required