Did you know that Switzerland has consistently been voted one of the happiest countries in the world? After a masterclass in how to “Be More Swiss”with Swiss herbal sweet company Ricola, I am beginning to understand why!
Ricola, a Swiss brand through and through, who have been producing their herbal sweets and teas for over 80 years, shared tips on Swiss food, etiquette and lifestyle, encouraging us to #BeMoreSwiss and learn some life lessons from this happy nation.
Swiss chef Anton Mosimann OBE, (former chef of the Dorchester who catered Will and Kate’s wedding) created the most delicious meal based on the Swiss favoured concepts of simple, yet top quality food, letting the flavours of local, seasonal produce do all the talking. Anton explained that, whilst his food may be classic cuisine in many ways, he doesn’t use cream, butter or alcohol, and in fact his dishes are very healthy. He calls it cuisine naturelle, emphasising healthy and natural ingredients, and explained that he was heavily influenced by the food he ate growing up, which was very much good quality local, seasonal, organic produce.
Anton Mosimann discussing his inspiration for the menu
Herbs were an important element of the day (even the flowers on the table were stunning bouquets of the herbs Ricola use in their sweets), and every dish of our lunch had a signature herb. From chives with his signature risotto, to chervil with the raclette stuffed courgette flowers, to mint with the chocolate mousse. It really was a prime example of how the humblest of ingredients can transform a simple dish to Michelin level cuisine. One of my top tips to any of you wanting to cook healthy, easy, delicious food is to make sure you have fresh herbs on hand, so I was delighted that this sentiment was echoed by such a high authority in the world of food!
It was also something that Alexandra Dudley, author of Land and Sea, also touched on. Alexandra spent a lot of time in Switzerland growing up, and this clearly shaped her recipes which are focused on fresh, seasonal, quality ingredients (you can see why I am a fan!) Alexandra also described the value given to meals as important daily events, which is absolutely something we could learn from in this country! Apparently, you won’t find the Swiss grabbing a sandwich at their desk for lunch, or eating dinner in front of the TV. Instead, proper lunch breaks are a must (in fact, most offices and shops close over lunch time), and evening meals are eaten as a family. Whilst pressures of time and deadlines may make such actions seem like luxuries, slowing down, being mindful about eating, and making meals social events would do a huge amount of good for every one’s relationship with food in my mind.
Ricola’s fabulous array of colourful sweet boxes
Finally, Marie-Hélène of the London School of Etiquette, shared some thoughts on Swiss etiquette. Whilst this is a country known for its precise timekeeping and general efficiency, the people clearly have a softer side too! After all, they are the only country in which it is the norm to give three air kisses on meeting, and it is considered rude not to say a proper goodbye to everyone before you leave. Respect and life balance were two concepts that were touched on time and again, two factors I believe are so important in creating a population of happy people. Then again, it could be the love of yodelling that brings smiles to their faces…
The main impression that I came away with, is that the Swiss embrace nature; from their love of outdoors (and who wouldn’t when you have those beautiful mountains to ski/ walk in), to the widespread use of organic food, to their appreciation for natural therapies where possible, the Swiss have certainly got something right in my mind. In a time where processed food and refined sugar is a daily dietary norm for many, it was so encouraging to spend time with people championing simple, natural ingredients. Ricola may be a ‘sweet’ brand, but their little drops of sugar free herbal delight are sweets that I am quite happy to enjoy, and every time I have one now, I will remember the tips I learnt on how to be happy the Swiss way!
This post was written as part of a promotional day with Ricola.com a herbal sweet brand. You can read more about their Be More Swiss campaign here
Some of the exquisite dishes we enjoyed