It is a well known fact that cows are machines for converting grass into milk. In the Alps they are large, free-range and cranky beasts, which is why they come equipped with large deafening bells. These serve the same purpose as those on fire engines, and although cows move slower they are just as unstoppable. Just ask Neil what happenned to him when we decided to loiter nearby and how shortly later he got run over by a cow.
While stuck in a crowded hut, I sampled the opinion of a small sample of the Swiss population regarding their local milk products. Both agreed on two things:
(1) the best chocolate is Toblerone, as it tastes good and does not melt in your trouser pocket. The latter statement may not stand the test of the Aussie summer though; and being female, the Swiss population sample also would not know how the inconveniently pointy triangular shape scratches my nuts.
(2) the best time to consume cheese is summer, as this is when the cows eat fresh grass (not hay) and run over tourists, both of which improve taste.
Which brings us to cheese. On the climbs we did I found it to be the most desirable food, and per pound of weight it quashed hunger like nothing else, edging out even Snickers and Mars bars. "Emmentaler" is not only tasty but you can clip a carabiner through it for convenience.
When off the climbs we found that cheese features highly in local restaurants, mostly arranged somehow with bread. In fondue, cheese arrives melted in a dish on top of a little solid fuel fire which keeps it melted, accompanied by a side bowl with chunks of bread. Several cheeses or "blends" can be chosen from. A long fork is used to impale a bread chunk, bathe it in the cheese and then transport it to the mandibles while taking care not to make any unsightly white stains on your trousers. Raclette is slightly less challenging and recommended as an introduction to cheese-based dining. It is basically one half of a baguette which is flooded with cheese on top. There is a cowardly side salad which clearly detracts from the purity of the coronary assault. White wine can be used to thin the cheese in vivo.
With such fare, one would think that the local Alpine folk would be rolling down the hillsides on their fat asses and getting them stuck in ravines but....well, I would not know what the locals look like as the Alps seem almost fully populated by tourists only....who have the option to go from pattiserie to boulangerie to bratwurst, to fondue, to raclette........and then to their detox diet back at home. Taking large 400g slabs of Toblerone with them.
The airport beagle looked rightly worried.