January 6th’s traditions


The Christmas time is traditionally finishing with the celebrations of January 6th.
In some countries this day is even a public and religious holiday.
The Christian church celebrates the arrival of the three kings to see and adore the newborn Jesus.
Coming from Italy and living in Switzerland, I (and especially the kids) can “celebrate” in two different ways, following different popular customs.

The Italian tradition says that in the night of January 6th an old woman, a kind of witch (called in Italian “Befana”) comes and brings sweets to the good children and coal to the bad ones. In order to get these presents, the kids have to hang an empty sock in the living room, which this old woman eventually fills in overnight…
This year the children got a lot of chocolates from “Befana”. And I can finally say that they deserved them!

The Swiss tradition (Unfortunately in our Canton, Argovia, January 6th is not a public holiday) celebrates this day by eating the so-called three king sweet bread.
All the main supermarkets sell it… or you should even bake it at home, if you can. The bread is sold in a package with a golden crown… Inside one of the pieces of this bread a very small figurine (2-3 cm) of one of the three kings is carefully hidden. The person who finds this miniaturised king (if he or she does not break the teeth) can happily wear the golden crown!
This year I was the lucky one! I was almost swallowing the small king, but I fortunately realised that it would have been better to save it from an inglorious and pathless travel into my bowel!

Swiss… “market” in Singapore

I was quite surprised as I found more than one “Marché Mövenpick” in some shopping malls even in Singapore!

Every shopping mall in Singapore is hosting a great variety of restaurants with different styles and food from various regions and countries of the world.

Switzerland seems to be represented by Marché! In Singapore they probably consider it as the pure Swissness, the “non-plus-ultra” of the Confederate cuisine! But they do not know that Marché, in its home country, is actually nothing more than a normal self-service / buffet diner, you can typically find in service areas on many Swiss highways!

Toblerone… better buy it in Singapore!

Toblerone!

The famous bar of Swiss chocolate, resembling its mountains with its unique triangular shape, is an institution in Switzerland.

It is for sure one of the most famous brands of the Confederation!

Very good! Then I should be able to buy it at the best possible conditions in a Swiss supermarket or specialised shop.

Wrong! Coop, one of the three most common Swiss supermarkets, sells a 100 g Toblerone bar for 2.20 CHF.

While wandering around in Vivo City, one of the most futuristic shopping malls in Singapore (Singapore! One of the most expensive countries in the world… and not just around the corner of the Alps!), I found a great deal!

Basically, in the nice Southeast-Asian country, 100 g of Toblerone were offered at a price of 2 Singaporean dollars, which corresponds to 1.45 CHF! One third cheaper than in the Chocolate Confederation!!

What is it? Is Toblerone a fading commodity nowadays, or do their producers prefer that it is bought far away from the Alps being confused as a souvenir and a specialty from another country?

“Surgically” sized garbage collectors – 2


The extremely organised and scientifically sized garbage collectors on the streets or at the bus stops have the main aim to prevent anyone from disposing big bags in these bins.
Good! Perfect! Smart!
But the practical life was not considered at all in these calculations!
For example, after the Saturdays’ nightlife and leisure, on a sleepy Sunday morning, I found the garbage collector at the bus stop under my house in this condition (see photos).
Pizza, plastic bottles, cans: what else? It would be nice if they could fit INTO the garbage bin, not just lying ON it…
These garbage objects probably look exactly the same as their last “owners” after a long night: snoring, burping and with a terrible headache!

See also my previous post on this matter: https://geoch1.wordpress.com/2018/02/05/surgically-sized-garbage-collectors/

Golden coffee? Platinum ice cream? No, just Swiss prices!

Today, Saturday, I went with my family to Zurich to have lunch in the nice vegetarian restaurant Tibits and enjoy a sunny day at the lake and at the cinema.

When you eat outside in Switzerland, the high prices are always reducing your joy of a good meal in a good restaurant.
After lunch, this attracting set of two coffees and two ice creams was “just” 16 CHF! Horrible price, isn’t it? Unfortunately quite usual in Switzerland.
I would be relieved to know that in some other countries these very basic pleasures of life are so expensive too!

World record restaurant

Last Saturday, as often when we go to Zurich, we had lunch in our favourite place in town: the famous vegetarian restaurant “Haus Hiltl”, just couple of steps from the central Bahnhofstrasse.
This time I just realised that they are a Guinness World Record holder! Haus Hiltl is the oldest vegetarian restaurant of the world!
And in 2018 they celebrate their 120th anniversary!

The vegetarian food is very unique, with many exotic influences, fresh and good! You typically choose the specialties and quantities you prefer from a buffet, paying for the relevant weight.

Congratulations Haus Hiltl!
And congratulations small Switzerland, another world record!

The inelegant line…

In Switzerland, at the restaurant, you can order a bottle of wine, an open wine or a glass of wine.
When choosing a glass of wine you would expect that the host pours the wine, so that the glass looks filled in a proper and decent way.
But what about the precision? That’s why all the Swiss glasses for red, white, rose’, champagne, Prosecco are “cut” by a white horizontal line with the mathematical indication of 10 cl!
Precise and perfect, but for sure the wine tastes less good and magical in a “lined” glass!

Beer… with or without soul?

Today I bought a good pack of 10 bottles of Limmat Bräu (Limmat Beer).
This beer is proudly produced by Müller Brauerei in Baden (Canton of Argovia, Switzerland). Its name is recalling the name of the river flowing, among others, through Baden and Zurich.
The photo on the bottle label is a very nice view of the river Limmat in Zurich (Zurich, of course, capital of Canton Zurich).

Knowing the proud and sharp rivalry between Argovia and Zurich, I was quite astonished when I saw the photo with a view of Zurich on a beer produced in Argovia!!
A photo of the biggest city of Switzerland on a beer produced in the countryside small town of Baden!

Why?
Is it a dramatic mistake?
Is it a marketing strategy?
Is it simply the confirmation that a fresh beer is always good, wherever you enjoy it?

The “Baden ride”

Baden, the small city in Argovia famous for the old roman hot springs and for being the headquarters of ABB and GE in Switzerland, has just celebrated its “ride” from the 18th to the 27th of August.
The so-called “Badenfahrt” is a great party which lasts 10 days all over the town and takes place every 10 years (every 5 with a smaller version).

All the city transforms itself in a real Wonderland: everywhere you find stalls with food and drinks, temporary open air bars, people preparing and selling food from every country in the world, stages for concerts, a big Luna Park with impressive attractions, western-style saloons, terraces and balconies, even a rocket takeoff installation, tropical clubs, exotic places, fun and happiness. The ultimate 10 years’ recurring event!
The most of this “new temporary city within the actual city” is organised by various associations, which are so popular in Switzerland. Therefore a lot of people are volunteering to contribute to the success of this event.

This time, the small great Baden has done it perfectly!
Better than any pirate, corsair, crusade, expedition, campaign: the Baden ride, the Badenfahrt, has really been amazing!

The banana mystery is almost solved


Picture from www.pinterest.de

Last week I had the yearly meeting with the kindergarten teacher of my elder daughter.
Every year, near the end of the year, the teacher gives feedback and scores to the behaviour, activities, progress of the kids.
I was pleased for the nice feedback, but my energies were already all directed towards the… mysterious topic!
And so finally I came to the million dollars’ question: Why (the hell, but this I did not speak out loud) the kids cannot eat bananas during their break in the kindergarten?

The teacher seemed a little surprised for this “nutritional” question, but she immediately understood!
OK, to make it short, a dental specialist sometimes visits the kindergarten to teach the kids how to clean their teeth properly and inform them on other matters somehow related to orthodontics, including “healthy” and tooth-friendly food.
Apparently, as the teacher reported, banana tends to stuck and melt in between the teeth, due to its soft texture. This might increase the risk for caries.
I don’t know whether it was because of the heat of the day or the astonishment for such piece of information, but I remained still, like stunned, for some seconds.

I never heard someone condamn bananas in such a way, being banana still a recognised very healthy fruit!
But this is it!

The mystery is solved by now.
But it probably needs a follow-up!
As far as I know, there are many other fruits which can stick, stuck, glue themselves between small teeth, but they have not been softly “banned” by the kindergarten dental consultant!

Is this just racism against bananas or maybe the dental consultant absolutely hates… minions??

(See also my previous post “The banana mystery in the Kindergarten”: https://geoch1.wordpress.com/2017/05/06/the-banana-mystery-in-the-kindergarten/)