I don’t think I’ve ever met a nicer group of people than the Swiss. For example, one evening my husband and I went to buy some food at a local shop, and much to our dismay realized when we went to pay that they only took cash. Being total rookies in the country still we had no idea that credit cards were not accepted as many places as we were used to in the States, and felt quite embarrassed as well disappointed at the thought of not being able to get food that night. Much to our surprise, the young clerk manning the shop was like no big deal – “Vous êtes près d’ici? (Are you from near here?)” he asked, and let us take our groceries anyways saying that we could come back in tomorrow when we had the cash and pay. We were totally shocked that someone would be so trusting and totally thankful – there was nothing at all obligating him to be so nice! But that just seems to be the culture here. Everywhere we go, people have been extremely helpful and friendly. We try our best with the French (which has amazingly improved quite quickly to a point of near-mediocrity where along with hand-gestures we can attempt to communicate) and end up conversing in a mix of English/French/(sometimes Spanish too) and somehow can communicate
Speaking of nice people here, when we first moved across the ocean, it was tough getting used to the fact of living in a hotel for at least a month with nothing to prepare food with besides a microwave and a little fridge (which is pretty good for just a hotel room). Luckily, to our great fortune, one of our colleagues was so generous that while he was traveling let us use his kitchen and cook in his apt. as we are still waiting for a place of our own.
We have not figured out the gluten free thing very well yet here, mostly because we need to get a better mastery of reading ingredient labels and finding the right stores. But one thing we do know is that Indian and southern Asian cuisines tend to be a pretty safe bet. Unfortunately for my husband, most of Swiss cuisine revolves around one of my favorite foods ever – bread. So eating out has been a little tricky so far, until we get our bearings a bit better and know our way around the city more. Two very important sentences when dining out – “Je suis allergique à gluten. Je ne peux pas manger du pain.” (I am allergic to gluten, I can’t eat bread.) But for now, we have a kitchen that we can use – yay!!!!!
Going along with the theme of foods with an Asian flair, we have made a simple and easy stir fry with a coconut curry quite a few times now. It may not seem obvious to many, but curry is a generic word for sauce and can actually mean a number of different things depending on what flavors you are going for. Using fresh herbs and spices I find tastes a lot better than a pre-made mixture. I did not grind all of my flavors together to make a paste first. I just cooked them into my meal. They are still tasty that way.
One awesome thing about being in Switzerland is that produce is always fresh, and quite affordable (once you remember that prices are per kilo and not per pound). Meat, however, is a bit pricey. So we buy a little bit of meat and supplement with lots of fresh veggies, which is healthier anyways. For example, the chicken we used here was equivalent to about $17/lb. This dish is pretty quick to cook, uncomplicated, and quite satisfying, especially on these cold snowy days that we were inundated with our first week. All good things on a cold blustery day
1 c. dry perfume rice
2 tbs. canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small onions, chopped
1 tbs. coriander seed
4 kaffir lime leaves
2 red chiles, finely chopped (with seeds for extra heat)
2 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
1/2 lb. chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
1 small eggplant, peeled and chopped
1/4 c. cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 c. thai basil, finely chopped
2 c. coconut milk
1 small head broccoli, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1. Start rice cooking according to package directions. In a large skillet, heat up oil and add in garlic, onions, coriander seed, kaffir lime leaves, red chiles, lemongrass. Stir together and let cook a bit, until onions are softened and your kitchen smells awesome, and then add in juice from half of the lime.
2. At this point, It’s really just a matter of adding in the ingredients at the right time so they all cook to your preference. I added in the chicken and eggplant next, and squirted the rest of the lime juice over both – eggplant is great because it really soaks up a lot of flavor while cooking. Once the chicken is fully cooked and the eggplant has softened, add the fresh herbs and coconut milk – stir, and let simmer covered until eggplant is fully cooked. Then towards the end add in the broccoli and pepper, cover and continue simmering until broccoli is steamed and just starting to get tender.
3. The rice was done somewhere in the middle of step two – when done, fluff with a fork and remove from heat.
4. Serve chicken and veggies with coconut sauce over a bowl of rice. Enjoy!
Also shared on Friday Foodie Fix