Salt is the white stuff

February 2, 2010, 5 Comments

I am in crisp heaven! One of the worst things about leaving Britain to live in Switzerland was having to reduce my choice of crisp flavours to two: salt or paprika. That was it. Then, a couple of years ago Swiss supermarkets started selling other flavours but totally weird ones. Curry. Oriental Spice. Wasabi. It was as if it could only be spicy or nothing. Where was the cheese & onion? Where was the salt & vinegar? Where was the beef?

But Migros in its infinite wisdom has finally seen the light. Salt and vinegar crisps are now one of its products. Wonder of wonders, they even taste like the real deal, not some not-quite-right copy. True they only come in giant bags (170g, which is about the same as 8 normal British bags) but that just means you get more to eat. Though perhaps they are designed for sharing. No chance of that!

Of course, here crisps are called chips, even in German. All too American for me. Chips are hot and eaten with ketchup (and maybe fish), not cold and in a packet. Perhaps that’s why the Swiss don’t eat as many as the British. Then again no-one eats as many crisps as the Brits – they consume more each year than the rest of Europe put together. 10 billion bags, though at least most are small 20g ones.

That’s the good news as far as salty things in Switzerland goes. The bad news is that the winter is so cold this year (it was minus 14.6C in Bern last night) that the local councils are running out of salt for using on the streets. That means, shock horror, some pavements are not being salted. It’s like being back in Britain, but at least the rest of Europe can take heart that sometimes even the Swiss get things wrong when it comes to dealing with snow and ice.

And just so you know, salt in Switzerland is a state-controlled business with no free market, only two producers and subject to a salt tax. That’s why all the table salt you see in the shops and restaurants is Swiss. The only exceptions seem to be salt from the sea or from Himalayan rocks, as Switzerland lacks access to both. There are some things that even the Swiss can’t control.

5 Comments on "Salt is the white stuff"

  1. Sara Ellul Tuesday February 2nd, 2010 at 08:44 PM · Reply

    The bonus is that you have the best chocolate in the world to go with the S & V crisps and that really is heaven!

  2. swisswatching Wednesday February 3rd, 2010 at 07:58 AM · Reply

    As much as I love eating the two together, I think that flavour combo may be a little too weird for the Swiss. Let’s give them time to get used to S&V first; after all we’ve had them for about 80 years. Maybe in a decade or so they will have discovered prawn cocktail, roast chicken, Worcester sauce, ketchup and smoky bacon flavours…

  3. Min Monday February 8th, 2010 at 06:03 PM · Reply

    Where does Swiss table salt come from, the Bex salt mine?

  4. swisswatching Monday February 8th, 2010 at 08:22 PM · Reply

    There are two, Min. The Bex mines in Vaud and the Rheinsalinen near Basel.

  5. Janie Sunday August 8th, 2010 at 12:27 AM · Reply

    I just read the article on Salt written in February. I too wonder where the salt comes from and why there is a tax on it. Does that mean you pay an extra tax when you buy it?

    Also most of your writing seems to be about the German part of Switzerland. I remember the one about the Swiss not lining up in store or for the train but I read somewhere that in the French part of Switzerland the Swiss line up just fine for whatever they are waiting for.
    Is this true?

Leave a Comment