My German Wife Struggles to Organize A Traditional Swiss Raclette Dinner in America

Swiss raclette cheese being melted and scraped
Melted Swiss Cheese: so good you’ll want to rub it all over your nipples. — Photo by Yusuke Kawasaki (http://www.flickr.com/photos/u-suke/)

Back when we lived together in the States, my wife attempted to plan a “raclette” dinner party at our house. Raclette itself is a semi-hard cheese from Switzerland typically used for melting. (Let’s pause for a second here and appreciate the fact that ‘semi-hard’ is still funny to me because I have not matured one single day since I was 12 years old.)

A traditional Swiss raclette dinner evening with table-top grill
“Bless this meal and the inevitable heart failure it causes.” — Photo by Vasile Cotovanu (http://www.flickr.com/photos/vasile23/)

The word raclette also applies to meals in which small pans, known as coupelles, are filled with meats and vegetables, covered with slices of Swiss cheese, and then placed beneath a table-top grill to melt. After the cheese has completely melted, dinner guests withdraw the coupelles and eat the contents. Then their heads explode because their brains cannot process such an overwhelming rush of deliciousness. Seriously, eating raclette is like having an orgasm in your entire head. (I call it a skullgasm.)

So, what I’m saying is, raclette dinners are awesome. Trying to organize a raclette dinner with all of your busy friends — most of whom have kidsis not. For my German wife, trying to get a bunch of Americans under one roof was like herding cats. Some of our guests had previous commitments to attend to. Some of them forgot what ‘R.S.V.P.’ meant (or actively disregarded it), and others were just too busy wiping baby bottoms to show up. But in the end, my wife managed to organize an awesome dinner, and when it was all over, she collapsed on the couch and sighed…

THE WIFE: “It is always so difficult bringing everybody under one hat!”*

*She later clarified: “That was a Denglish saying! In German we say: ‘Es ist schwierig, alles unter einen Hut zu bringen.’ “

Click here to learn more about the term “Denglish.”

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31 thoughts

  1. Raclette might be the best thing ever. We just had it last night! we have one of those old fashioned grills you see them using at some of the christmas markets. The ones that take half a wheel of cheese. For 2 people — ouch — in any case those who didn’t show up for your wife’s dinner just missed out!

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  2. Yes, that was a real Denglish-quotation. Could have been coming from my English teacher, who said awesome things like:
    In the Middelalter, they needed a fire to warm their Bügeleisen.
    English-teacher … who said about himself: If I had not been that good in English I would have become a top athlete …

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  3. Loved it! You just reminded me that I really want one of those Raclette grills, so I can thoroughly exhaust myself trying to “bring everyone under one hat,” too! Mostly, I want one because Raclette is so DELICIOUS, and it’s a great way to enjoy a “slower” social gathering around the dinner table!

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  4. In the end, we ended up having two grills. Sharing one pan with your neighbor just was to tedious. But Raclette always turns out to be a several hours long orgy of fine food, with everybody complaining of “way to much food” afterwards….
    In Short: I love it!

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  5. In the end, we ended up having two grills. Sharing one cup with your neighbor was just to tedious.
    But Raclette is a kind of slow, deliberate and utterly self administered form of stuffing. You just can´t stop, because it tastes so good.
    And after several hours of eating, everybody mutters something about having had “to much to eat… again”
    We love it!

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  6. My German boyfriend has been talking about raclette non-stop for the past month (I’m American, but we live in Germany). I guess I’ll have to buy him one for Christmas so I can experience the skullgasm.

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  7. Of course, who doesn’t know the melted Swiss cheese, the accessories in dishes, all the special things that go with Raclette, the vegetables, the potatoes, the cornichons and all the other things… and who doesn’t miss the stink in your apartment for three days after you had it, no matter how often and wide you had your windows open? LOOOOOL

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  8. Back when I was a little younger (I would say kid, but technically I’m still not really an adult yet… *sigh*) we used to have raclette as a traditional New Years Dinner. It was quick and easy to prepare, so you wouldn’t have to stay in the kitchen all day and cook a delicious festive dinner. Additionally, it was quite comfortable too, as you could just walk outside for a bit to watch the fireworks or throw snowballs at each other, and then go inside to eat another coupelle. Now that me and my brother are 17 and 20, my parents and grandparents seem to find it ‘unnecessary’ to make raclette, so for the past three or so years, we haven’t really lived up to our tradition. Which is sad of course, because raclette tastes like heaven. On a sidenote, I really enjoy reading your blog! As a German, I sometimes don’t even realise that a certain saying is so typically German until I read your posts. Keep it up!

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