Monday, February 2, 2009

Wandering Around Zurich Town

We awoke on our second full day in Zurich eager to tour historic sights. Our first scheduled stop was the Kunsthaus, which Trofie Wife had toured at length (after being scolded in German for not putting my coat in a locker) last January but which Martello was curious to see. Unfortunately, it’s closed on Mondays (and we thought it was just Sunday that was the problem in this place!). So instead we headed to the two major churches in town, the Fraumünster (featuring stained-glass windows by Chagall and Giacometti; see photo of outside of church below; sorry, no cameras allowed inside, but here are some links:; and the Grossmünster ( We hiked up the creaky, narrow, wooden stairs of the Grossmünster tower (which would certainly be viewed as way too dangerous for two-way traffic in the United States) so that Martello could capture a lovely view of the city, while Trofie Wife stood far away from the edge and clung to the railings.

Fraumunster clocktower (those Swiss and their clocks!)

We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the Niederdorf neighborhood (the older part of the city, too much of which has receded into a cheesy, overpriced, tourist-attracting, bar-laden area) and weaving back and forth across the many footbridges, taking in one picturesque site after another.

With two trips to Zurich already behind her, Trofie Wife had still not tasted a proper fondue or raclette meal, so although I am lactose intolerant, I believed this was a necessary undertaking in order to fully understand Swiss culture. On my first visit in late 2006, Zurich Sister and I had nearly gone to Adler’s Swiss Chuchi on the advice of a friend, so I decided it was the best place in Zurich for Martello and me to have an authentic fondue/raclette experience. I really didn’t know, however, what the difference was between these two cheese delivery apparati prior to that meal (and I bet most readers don’t either). Fondue involves strangely-pronged, mutant forks and the fairly easy task of dipping bread or whole mini potatoes from a fairly large sack into a cauldron of bubbling cheese. Raclette, on the other hand, involves way more work. The waiter plugs a cheese grill into the wall and the diner then places her cheese (in my case, gouda) on the grill. When it seems melted enough, you use a spatula-like instrument to scrape it off the grill and onto your plate. I was given a whole assortment of things to throw the cheese on in addition to the potatoes and bread—onions, pickles, pears. (This is at least how we ate the raclette; it could be the totally wrong way to do it, which wouldn’t surprise me.) This meal was, of course, accompanied by a healthy dose of Lactaid® (that one’s for you, Johnson & Johnson Supplier). Yet there are some meals that even super duper fast-acting, enzyme replacing Lactaid® can’t handle—a risk that I was willing to take in order to check this culinary experience off my list. I just wasn’t ready for the ensuing results.

There are moments in one’s life where your actions can lead you to question your entire purpose for being. Changes in behavior so vast that you can’t look yourself in the mirror. Well, just an hour or so later, Trofie Wife had one of those (actually, it was two, which compounded the breakdown). First, while I had been eager to show Martello around Globus, the beautiful Swiss department store with a stunning basement-level gourmet food shop, I could not muster the energy, my stomach still weakened. While this turn of events disappointed me, Martello wasn’t similarly bummed, so it wasn’t a huge deal (since I had already made a dent in my savings there twice before). But what happened next gave me metaphysical whiplash. We made our way to the Sprungli flagship (remember, the one I couldn’t wait to visit?), and I could not motivate myself to select chocolate. Yes, you heard me correctly. I just couldn’t do it. I tried to find the year’s vintage chocolate bar but it didn’t seem to have been released yet, and I had no energy to select truffles. I grabbed one box of assorted carrés (dark chocolate squares filled with flavored nougat) and asked Martello if it was okay if we left. Let me repeat that in case you misunderstood: I ASKED MARTELLO IF IT WAS OKAY TO VOLUNTARILY EXIT A CHOCOLATE STORE!!! When we did go, I had to sit for a few minutes in order to compose myself. I was out of sorts. I believed that I had lost the essence of myself if I was incapable of gravitating towards dark chocolate. I was afraid that we’d have to use our health insurance for emergency choco-therapy sessions. Yet, thankfully, after some reassuring words from Martello, I felt better. Later that evening following dinner, I opened the carré box and just to make sure the problem was solved, I had two.

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife

1 comment:

eldrhammer said...

wow...that was a "metaphysical whiplash"...