Authentic Meal in Switzerland
This story was submitted by Barry Holloway to the Stories of Travel collection as part of the May SEEQ sessions.
On the last full day of a two-week trip around Switzerland, I had a memorable experience which became a highlight of the trip and it reminded me why I love to travel… to have authentic experiences.
In the village of Appenzell, in eastern Switzerland, a restaurant was recommended by the host of the small hotel I was staying in. It was a nice late afternoon, so I sat on the deck where a few others were already seated. After saying to the owner/hostess/waitress of my desire for a traditional meal from the area; she sat down beside me at the picnic table, placed her arm around my shoulders, and explained everything on the limited menu. Since she only makes a few dishes each night, you eat whatever she has prepared. After deciding what to have and placing my order, she disappeared inside. The dishes began to arrive, and when time allowed, she’d ask how I was enjoying everything. It was wonderful!
Soon, I heard singing coming from inside; curious, I got up to look. Seated at a long table was a group of people I’d learn was a local choir singing traditional Swiss folk songs. The owner motioned for me to come in and after looking around the room for an open space in the nearly full room, she had me sit alone at a large, empty round table somewhat in the center of the restaurant. She surprised me with dessert and bottle of local wine.
After nearly three hours, I didn’t want to leave, but I paid for meal and hugged the owner. She seemed so pleased when I said the whole evening was a highlight of my trip. As I made my way to the door, several diners asked how I was enjoying my time in Switzerland, where I had been, and where I was from. After thanking the choir for the lovely singing, someone pulled me aside to ask if I knew how special I was. He told me only locals and honored guests are allowed to sit where she had placed me! It was quite a thrill as everyone in the restaurant started waving and wishing me safe travels as I walked out the door.
These are the memories that will be with me the rest of my life.