“Where thou art, that is home” – Emily Dickinson
It is said that home is where the heart is – and that having a home is not about the perfect HGTV worthy historic colonial with an impeccably manicured lawn, but rather about having a sense of place, security, and comfort, especially in the company of loved ones. We have found ourselves at the end of our lovely experience over on the other side of the “pond”, and are now back home with friends and family whom we had missed so much.
Not quite four and a half years ago, my husband and I set off across the world, to arrive in a charming snow-covered city on Lake Geneva. Since then, living in Europe has been an incredible set of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but like all good things must at some point come to an end, in order to start the next chapter in our lives. But really, while my husband and I always thought of our time in Switzerland as merely a place to live (we never even bothered to decorate because well, what was the point if one day we’d have to pack it all up anyways?), in a way for that time at least, Switzerland was home too. After all, Switzerland is the only home that our daughter has ever known, and I know it’s been hard for her as she doesn’t quite understand why Mama and Daddy have been packing up every single item we owned into boxes to send off – but she’ll figure it out soon enough. When it was time for bed the first night out of our little apartment and in the hotel room, she told us, “No, night-night home!” When she figured out we weren’t going to be going back to our apartment that night, she expressed her disappointment in the clearest way that a toddler can – by crying. I felt so bad that my attempts at explaining that we were moving had failed to be articulated in a way that she could understand.
For us too, leaving was a little bittersweet – over Easter , we decided to spend one of our last Swiss weekends with our good friends Jonell and Peter up in the Alps of Villars – The mountains were still snow-capped even in mid-April, and we enjoyed our last trip into the scenic Swiss alpine landscape with an equally fitting last Swiss dinner – la fondue aux tomates and la raclette at the Refuge de Solalex.
We easily requested pommes de terre, or potatoes, for the fondue, and the raclette was prepared right by the fireplace across the way from our table. To date, this fondue at Solalex is my favorite fondue in all of Switzerland.
Fast forward several packed suitcases and a few long airport layovers later, and we find ourselves back home – well, it feels a lot more like home to us at least, being able to be near many dearly missed friends and family again. Baby girl feels it too, despite all the transition of moving halfway around the world. What has helped her most was finally making the big trip and actually seeing Paw Paw, Grandma, and Granny after so long – you could just see her relax – she knew, despite being a location she surely couldn’t possibly remember first-hand (there was that Thanksgiving trip when she was only a couple months old), that this was now home.
I thought I would have more mixed feelings than I do at this point about leaving. Switzerland was the opportunity of a lifetime – we tried to take advantage of visiting as many new places as possible, and made several wonderful friends along the way. We ate well, we tried new things, learned a lot about the interconnect between food, culture, and life, and hopefully I haven’t been too annoying about sharing our experiences here with you on this blog 😉 But in the end, it was time. Time to come back home to family and the great United States, and time to show our baby girl all of the amazing and beautiful things in America.
We had such nostalgia walking through the weekly farmer’s market in our old stomping grounds, and of course were stunned by the plethora of tantalizing gluten free goodies that now line the shelves of our grocery store. So many amazing, some nearly unfathomable, options (many of which I really do hope to try at some point, particularly the gluten free pizza crusts) and yet, what I have had most satisfaction making (as I nearly squealed at the idea of paying only $3.25 for an entire dozen local farm fresh eggs) is a simple naturally gluten free dish from scratch that a dear friend and colleague taught me while I was in Switzerland – a basic Italian omlette, or frittata. Now surely I have totally deviated from all realm of tradition by eating it for breakfast, and adding in garnishes like chopped up leftover roast chicken from the night before, but I promised her I wouldn’t “cheat” when I made it (well she called it cheating, ha), and that I’d actually get the technique down for flipping it over in the skillet rather than finishing it in the oven. The key is really just having the right size pan and plate
My morning routine is fast becoming a tasty two-egg frittata thrown together in a skillet, accompanied by a cuppa brewed on the stove in our trusty Bialetti. I find that in these quiet sunlit mornings amongst the wooded Appalachian foothills, a little bit of Europe has indeed come back home with me – and it has found its way into my breakfast.