With the rise of Instagram and blogging, taking pictures of food has never been more ubiquitous a pastime. And though I have never been a trendsetter, I like to think that, at least in this regard, I was way ahead of the curve. Long before I ever had a blog or an Instagram handle, I was snapping photographs of my food while on vacation. And I find that when I look back at old travel snapshots, the food pictures remain some of my favorites.
I suppose it’s because, sometimes even more than famous landmarks, food gives you the strongest sense of a place – of what’s distinctive about it, of what the locals respect, of what the daily life is like. In five or ten years, I might not remember exactly how old Lucerne’s wooden bridges were or the name of the museum with all the Picassos (it was the Rosengart Collection, for the record). Even though those details will elude me, I have a sneaking suspicion that, when I look at pictures of warm roasted chestnuts and crazy cheesy macaroni, I’ll remember just how delicious those bites were. And luckily, in Lucerne, there was a lot of deliciousness to be found. Here are a few of my favorite foodie memories from the city:
A Hotel Breakfast of Champions:
You know what’s disappointing? When a hotel claims that breakfast is included, and then it turns out to be something meager, like a stale muffin and a glass of orange juice. Luckily, that was not the case at Hotel des Alpes, and I greatly enjoyed all my breakfasts there. Among the reasons why: soft boiled eggs, delicious meats and cheeses, flaky croissants, and good coffee. Oh, and a little thing called “unlimited Nutella packets.”
I’ve often spotted stands selling marroni, or roasted chestnuts, throughout Switzerland, but I felt like they were literally around every corner in Lucerne. Given their prevalence, I decided to finally try some – and I’m glad I did. Though the price was steep (roughly $6 for a tiny 100g bag), the taste was delicious. All in all, they were the perfect treat to stroll around town with on a crisp January afternoon.
The Cheesiest Macaroni & Cheese:
As I scanned the menu at Rathaus Brauerei, I was almost certain that alplermagronen meant “macaroni and cheese,” so I went ahead and ordered it. Luckily, my German-decoding skills were up to par, as that’s exactly what I was served. Except it wasn’t just macaroni and cheese – it was macaroni and an absurd, absurd amount of cheese. It was delicious, but perhaps a bit too heavy on the cheese. Still, when in Switzerland, amirite?
The Saturday Morning Market:
As I ate my breakfast on Saturday morning, I looked out the hotel’s windows – which faced toward the riverside area – and saw stalls set up for a morning Farmers Market. Right away, I knew that’s where I would start my day. Though I didn’t have anything I needed to buy from the market, I had plenty of fun browsing the stalls. The piles of fresh bread were oh-so-tempting, but it was the cheese stand that really got me. I mean, doesn’t that look like more cheesy goodness than should be allowed?
Because it cannot be overstated: look at all that cheese! I’ve often thought of Switzerland as the land of cheese and chocolate, and between the macaroni and the market, it became quite clear that Lucerne – among its many charms – has the cheese part of the equation very well covered indeed.