After all the previous researching on Poland, we actually wanted to put this off a bit to slowly decide our next destination. That was till we saw this:
... and this post featuring Switzerland was born.
The Swiss are famous for their snowy peaks, clean air, watches, skiing, cheese and chocolate. These few words alone combine to paint a nice travel experience, but the last one really drives it home to persuade us to head there (when we have the time and financial luxury to, that is) . For some locals, consuming chocolate may be a sudden craving, or as comfort food we rely on -- basically more of a random or occasional event. But for the Swiss, it is a way of life.
- Capital: Bern (Zurich is the largest city)
- Official languages: German, French, Italian, Romansh
- Highest wealth per adult
- While the Alps occupy the greater part of the Swiss territory, its population is concentrated mostly on the Plateau, where the largest cities are to be found, like Zurich and Geneva.
- Zurich and Geneva have respectively ranked as the cities with the second and eighth highest quality of life in the world (with all the goodies they have in the nation, this sounds legit).
Switzerland is so renowned for its chocolate that it deserves its own special section. It came as a surprise when we got to know that their creativity enabled them to be famous for a product with ingredients that did not even originate in their land. They were also the ones that invented the mixer that could properly combine cocoa powder and sugar. The Swiss also were the ones who developed tempering, as well as coming up with such sweet delights such as hazelnut, filled chocolates, and of course, the milk chocolate.
By 1912, the Swiss had captured over half of the world’s market share of chocolate. Today, the Swiss chocolate manufacturers produce about 160,000 ton of chocolate annually. Although the production process has been improved, the recipes and the eye for quality remains the same as ever.
Something sweet to do there...
We were so pleasantly surprised when we found out that there was a Sweet Tour in Zurich led by a local food blogger, Kerrin of MyKugelhopf, that tourists can sign up for, conducted in English! She will be guiding tours of 2 - 8 people around Zurich for 2.5 hours, to discover some of the city’s most irresistible sweets, including both the well-known destinations and the sweet go-tos that have been missed out in the travel guides, while learning about the history of and trends in chocolate in Zurich. It sounds like an enticing experience that can satisfy our greed for chocolate knowledge and (of course) our taste buds. More information can be found here!
Like Kerrin, today we will share a well-liked brand with you which you may or may not know, hails from Switzerland too! To us, Ovomaltine is an easily available and affordable passage to experience Switzerland first-hand, despite being physically in Singapore -- it is really that representative of the nation.
Ovomaltine, wait, isn't it Ovaltine?
Many questioned the relationship between this two -- are they the same brand? Competitor brands?
Ovaltine was first developed in Bern, Switzerland, under its original name Ovomaltine (from ovum, Latin for "egg," and malt, two of its main ingredients.) Made with malt extract, sugar, cocoa and whey, it gained widespread popularity when it was exported to Britain in 1909, when a misspelling of the name on the trademark registration application led to the name being shortened to Ovaltine in English-speaking markets, including the US and previous British colonies like Singapore and Hong Kong.
Our love for Ovomaltine just multiplied when we discovered that it was created not for business, but for a great social cause. In the 19th Century, Georg Wander, a Swiss chemist started with a low-cost process to harvest malt extract, a syrup derived from malted barley. The barley was first allowed to germinate in a moist environment, softened, then dehydrated, leaving behind a thick, sweet goo, which he hoped, once fortified with goodies like vitamin D and phosphorous, would someday win the world's battle against malnutrition. His son then added ingredients like sugar and whey and marketed it to Swiss consumers as an energy booster.
Ovomaltine to the Swiss
Let's just hear it from the mouths of the Swiss.
In Switzerland, Ovomaltine is the stuff of legend, a brand that has always been closely associated with the national image. “You will find it in every household, and for years it has been advertised on television,” said Thomas Städeli, “generations have grown up with Ovaltine.” -- swiss.info.ch
As a Swiss native, I was used to this preparation of hot chocolate since I grew up drinking "Heissi Ovis" (hot Ovomaltine chocolate) most every morning before going to school. In fact, the hot "Ovomaltine" milk has become some sort of national beverage since it is considered healthy and tasty. -- A Humorous Guide to Switzerland
As evident in these extracts, it is clear that Ovomaltine, not classified under Swiss chocolate, deserves to be identified as a separate representative of the Swiss. In fact, according to About.com, Drinking Ovomaltine even became known during World War II as a patriotic act of defending the country (in Switzerland). As how an expat puts it, " Ovomaltine is to Switzerland what Coke is to America".
A taste of Ovomaltine in Singapore
In Singapore, what we get is the Ovaltine, which effectively, as discussed earlier, is the same thing as Ovomaltine, just produced somewhere other than Switzerland. Many locals prefer seeking the original Swiss experience, and one of the most popular products is the Ovomaltine Crunchy Cream spread, as previously introduced.
Crunchy Cream consists of Ovomaltine granules, giving it its crunchy texture, compared to the usual smooth texture of spreads, provides 11 kinds of vitamins and minerals.
Besides spreading it over bread, there are many other ways to enjoy this thick and rich spread.
Be it cupcakes, cakes, cookies, or even icecream or fruit desserts, there was a variety of recipes we found that used this Ovomaltine spread. We are bursting with excitement to share these recipes with everyone here, but that will be too much information squeezed into one post, so we will have one separate post dedicated for that. Please 'like' us on our Facebook for frequent updates!
There are also other reincarnations of the nutrition-rich Ovomaltine formula in the forms of the crisp muesli, the chocolate bar, the biscuits. While fawning over the goodness of the spread, do show them some love and you might find another breakfast table staple!
Updates @ 2 Jan 2014
Seeing Caotina up on the shelves in our favourite candy store, we decided to give this product made from real Swiss chocolate a try. Available in three varieties (noir, blanc and surfin), this extremely smooth mixture makes your perfect cocoa drink, melting evenly into a silky consistency, no matter mixed with hot or cold milk. This delightful addition to the list of featured Swiss products gives one extra alternative on the kitchen shelf as a wonderful ingredient.