Brot für Alle – Fastenopfer

Today I went to buy bread at my favorite local bakery. I tend to stick to types of bread that I know we like, but I was in the mood to try something new. I pointed to a bread that I don’t remember the name of and we enjoyed it with some roasted fennel, potato, and lamb stew that I’d whipped up.

Stuck in the bread was a little paper flag with a phrase in German on one side, and assumedly the same in French. One of the symbols had a cross in it, and I wondered if I’d accidentally bought communion bread that is usually sent up to a church or something like that. I understood the first part – “Bread for All” – but it took a few searches to try to find some more information here:

“Following the success of last year’s event, bakeries will once more be invited to join in the Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund and Bread for All campaign by selling “Shared Bread” throughout the campaign. As well as being able to enjoy this artisanal product, the shared bread gives Swiss people the chance to show their solidarity with those who do not have enough to eat. For each loaf sold, 50 centimes will be donated to the organizations for projects to fight hunger, particularly in the areas of organic farming and the preservation of natural resources. Tell everyone you know about this event and invite your local bakery to take part by registering directly on the Internet. Its success depends on you!”

Kinda neat to know that we accidentally supported a local charity.


Carnitas a la Krys

Here in our tiny Swiss kitchen, I often have to be creative when I cook. It isn’t just the ingredients that can be a challenge, but also allowing for the available utensils, pots, oven space, etc (we brought almost nothing from our own kitchen).

I wanted to make a TexMex speciality, Carnitas, for some guests that we had coming for lunch this afternoon. I found two recipes on the internet but I either didn’t have the right ingredients, or the right kinds of pots (i.e. something that could go from stove to oven). I’m a very adept and adaptable chef, and have learned from the best, so I came up with a recipe of my own and it was so good that I decided to share it as an example of getting creative with a lack of resources.

The two recipes I used for inspiration can be found here and here.

I served my Carnitas with caramelized onions and red and yellow bell peppers, fresh guacamole, sour cream, English Cheddar (that’s the only kind we can get here, but it is yummy!), spicy beans, and rice. And since I didn’t have the time or gumption to go all the way into Zurich to the Mexican import shop to get the really good tortillas, I picked up some awesome flat-breads from the Turkish market just down the road from our flat. They were practically the same as tortillas and soaked up all the juices from the meat and veggies quiet well. Continue reading

Fasnacht 2009 in Winterthur – Opening Ceremonies

This weekend we went to several activities in the Altstadt (old town) for the festival of Fasnacht (click on the link or see my previous blog for a more complete explination). It was wild and fun! If we are still lucky enough to live in Switzerland next year, we’ll definitely have to get dressed up ourselves.

On Friday night we met up with one of our other expat friends and her daughter (who is nearly the same age as our son), and went to the Narrenbaum Stellen – basically opening ceremonies. In Winterthur, a lot of the festival activities are based on music played by local marching bands. And the bands are excellent! All night we heard what seemed to be a few traditional Swiss favorites mixed in with a lot of rock songs from the US and UK. It was really neat. The babies loved the live music, and we were all getting a kick out of the utterly wild costumes.

When we first arrived, we met up with our friend Jo and wandered the Altstadt together until we stumbled upon a bizzare tradition – a large group of students (male) shaving next to one of the many fountains that you find int he Altstadt. They’d also covered the statue for this fountain (a nude woman) in shaving foam. I don’t think it is exactly related to Fasnacht, but according to what Jo could discern from one of the onlookers, the boys shave and then grow huge chops for the next few months and then have a big party. I remember a few months ago seeing a bunch of young men getting on the bus with thick sideburns wearing stove-pipe hats (just like Abraham Lincoln) and rather old-fashioned tuxes and suits. I guess this goes on more than once a year.

A few metres away from the fountain was a long line of more young guys – probably about 30 or so – all facing one direction, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, with shaving items at their feet, and a beer in hand. After some sort of speech and a cheer, the guys all chugged their beers, and started shaving. It was hilarious. Again, it probably really had little to do with Fasnacht.

Continue reading


This weekend (uncluding a national holiday on Monday) our town is celebrating Fastnacht. It is sort of a combination of Carnivale (Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, whatever you want to call it, Halloween, and Groundhog Day. Everyone dresses up in very wild wierd costumes and there are parades and food and at the end of the festivities, a burning of the Böögg, who is basically an effigy of old man winter.

So far, we’ve attended the opening ceremonies on Friday night that we didn’t fully understand. It was loud, lots of live music and crazy bizarre costumes, but a lot of fun. I’ll post more about it next week once I get the pictures uploaded.

For now, you can learn more about the truly Swiss festival of Fastnacht here on Wikipedia.

Quick Fact

I made chocolate chip cookies last week. Chocolate chips are a bit hard to find, and there is usually only one brand in the store. But the funniest thing about them is that they are square! I forgot to take pictures before we gobbled up all the cookies. In our defense, most of them went to my husband’s coworkers.