By Anne-Marie Dingemans
Why do the Swiss make such awesome chocolate? Or more interesting maybe, how? I am a chocolate-lover. A chocolate-snob even, according to some of my friends. Well, I can not possibly call a Mars Bar chocolate, and if that makes me a snob, well, so be it. Do a little taste-test yourself. Buy a bar of Lindt chocolate and any kind of average chocolate-containing snack. Cleanse your palate with some bread and water (yes, we do take this very seriously), then savor a sample of each. Do you taste the smoothness, the rich, creamy, silky-soft taste of the Swiss chocolate? Does it really compare to the grainy, sugary, slightly sour taste of the so-called chocolate? In my humble opinion it doesn't.
Now I wonder, how do they do that? Most of the ingredients have to be imported anyway (except for the milk, but both Belgium and Switzerland make great chocolate, and Belgium is mostly flat, so the Alpine milk of Swiss cows can't be the secret). Maybe it's a matter of demand. The Swiss are the biggest chocolate-eaters in the world! 10.5 kilos per person, per year! I'm sure that if you eat that much of it, you want it to be as agreeable as possible! Of course no chocolatier would ever give you his secret recipe, but a visit to the Nestlé Chocolate factory in Broc would at least give you a look into the process of making chocolate, with free samples of course.
And to make it a complete day out, why not take the Chocolate Train? It runs from Montreux to Broc every Monday, with a stop in the town of Gruyere, famous for its cheese. You can choose to ride a 1915 vintage Pullman car or in the Panorama-car with its (surprise!) panorama window.
The only disadvantage of being in Switzerland, visiting the factories, and doing some serious chocolate-sampling, is once you return home, you might just have turned in a chocolate-snob…