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Thread: Switzerlands Rstigraben, a Curious Culinary and Cultural Divide

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    Switzerlands Rstigraben, a Curious Culinary and Cultural Divide



    Switzerland is predominantly German-speaking, but far from completely so. The alpine confederation is officially quadrilingual: German (64%), French (20%), Italian (7%) and Romansh (0.5%). As the latter two languages are very minoritary, linguistic tension does tend to be a binary thing, between Deutschschweiz a word only a germanophone could pronounce and la Romandie, signifying the Swiss French west of the country.

    The Romands call the other side la Suisse almannique and the Schweizerdeutsche call the francophone part of their country Welschschweiz (the root word being a Germanic term for stranger, identical to the one in Wales and Wallonia).

    The language border dividing these two areas is known jestingly as the Rstigraben (in German) or the rideau de rsti (in French). A Graben is a ditch and a rideau is a curtain, so you get the idea of separation but what a Rsti is and why it is significant, requires a bit more explanation.

    This dish is made mainly by frying grated potatoes in a pan. It was formerly eaten as breakfast by farmers in the (German-speaking) Bern canton. The original conceit of the Rstigraben was that it constituted the western limit of the German Swiss culture, beyond which people spoke (and ate) differently.

    The Rsti has gained popularity as a side dish all over Switzerland, but the language and cultural differences persist. The French Swiss voters have traditionally been less averse of the international community (including potential EU membership) and more prone to support a more active role for the federal government. Recently, voting trends in French and German Switzerland have tended to converge more.

    The Rstigraben isnt the only gastronomically defined cultural border in central Europe. The northern and southern halves of germany are separated by what is called the Weisswurstquator the white sausage equator, after a favourite dish in Bavaria thats rarely eaten in the north.

    Unfortunately, there doesnt seem to be a map of this particular equator around. The book cover used here (and found here) shows a picture of a very literal Rstigraben a Switzerland-shaped Rsti broken in two exactly where the language border runs. That the ditch wasnt too hard to cross, is apparent by the name of the author, Laurent Fltsch: his French forename and German surname suggest his parents had a quite intimate knowledge of the other
    http://strangemaps.wordpress.com/200...al-fault-line/

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    Rsti is honestly some of the most delicious stuff I've ever had. Nice to know Switzerland has a dish of such simplicity yet of such a taste. Goes well with Bratwurst too.

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    It sounds Wonderful.........

    Quote Originally Posted by xamarth View Post
    Rsti is honestly some of the most delicious stuff I've ever had. Nice to know Switzerland has a dish of such simplicity yet of such a taste. Goes well with Bratwurst too.
    Is there a Recipe You could give me, or is it simply a particular way of preparing the potatoes? I love potatoes, cooked nearly any way they can be cooked. Bratwurst too.
    I don't think my Dear old Mom ever fixed a meal, without potatoes, even breakfast. At my age I have to be careful how often I eat them now, though. But I'd surely like to be able to make some "Rosti".
    Last edited by Grimsteinr; Thursday, July 29th, 2010 at 04:41 PM. Reason: spellimg

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