The Röstigraben

Post by Lauren

Switzerland has many different divides based on its mountainous geography. Since many of the areas stayed remote for a long time, it prevented the ease of travel and communication. Thus, there wasn’t really ever a “melting pot” effect in transitioning into one Swiss culture. Still today, there are still four official languages, based on the geography.

A few months ago, we looked at this language divide. This divide can sometimes be expressed as the “Röstigraben” (rosti divide in German) or in “rideau de rösti” (curtain of rosti in French). While the divide is named for a culinary dish ( based on the farmers breakfast rösti which originated near Bern ), it is actually more commonly used to reference the attitudinal differences that exist on either side of the divide.

The Swiss Germans have political differences to their Swiss Romande neighbors. It includes voting (Swiss Germans don’t want to be a part of the European Union, and want to keep the franc vs. adopting the Euro) as well as general lifestyle differences (Swiss Romandes are less conservative, less strict on rules, etc). During the elections, you can see a lot of this exemplified in the political ads.

And what is Rosti anyhow, you might ask? It is a potato dish. The best way to describe it is like upscale Waffle House hash browns. Sometimes it is served as a side, but most times, times its a main course – usually smothered, covered with something yummy – cheese, mushrooms, an egg, or perhaps sausage. It’s simply delicious.

Rosti at Restaurant du Pont, Zermatt, Switzerland

Other countries have similar divides reflected in foods.

In Germany, they have a line called the Weisswurstäquator. It is known as the “white sausage equator” because the Bavarian region eats the white type, rarely consumed by those living in the Northern region.

In Italy, the pizza is better in Naples and Southern Italy. Why? Because the Southern part of Italy was notoriously more poor than the Northern part. Thus, they often scraped up simple inexpensive ingredients to make a meal….thus creating and perfecting the dish we know as pizza.

And, back in the United States, I believe we have our own version of a Röstigraben, if you count the succulent Waffle House hashbrowns as a national delicacy. There are far more WH’s in the South than in the North and the West.

I wonder if our forefathers brought this back from Switzerland?

Courtesy of Waffle House restaurants

What other places in the world have divides based on food?


One thought on “The Röstigraben

  1. Pingback: Natural Beauty in the Bernese Oberland | The Swiss Watch Blog

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