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First off, I would like to say that I must be experiencing some sort of delayed jet lag or something, because I cannot seem to get un-tired. Either that, or I just have not been sleeping enough…..so needless to say, I should be sleeping right now- but instead, I am blogging.

Now that I have gotten that off my chest, I will commence this blog of random, unrelated subjects.

First off: blue bathrooms. Have you heard of them? I had, but I thought they were merely a thing of fiction until I saw one the other day at the Lausanne Gare.

Where are my veins??

…and yes, I took pictures in the bathroom.

So, why are these bathrooms blue? Well, I’m so glad you asked! (not really…I was hoping you already knew)
It’s because in the blue light, one’s veins are not visible, making it practically impossible to donate blood in these restrooms. It also discourages any other sort of activity during which one might need to locate one’s veins…(e.g., injecting oneself with illegal narcotics)

We also had a laugh because each bathroom stall had a lock on it that could be opened by inserting 1 CHF. I guess if you gotta go, you gotta go.

On to item #2, Tandem. Tomorrow, I meet with a random stranger, who claims to speak French, and who also claims to want to learn English. Seems pretty convenient, yes? The program is called Tandem (I believe this has already been mentioned) and not only did they match me up with a helpful stranger, but I can also receive college credits for meeting and conversing. Sounds easy? Well, that is to be determined. I meet with my stranger tomorrow…

Of course this wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t mention food somewhere in here…so I saved the best for last: Spätzli! It’s pronounced shpitz-ly (cute, right?) and it is as delicious as it sounds! It’s basically just a fat little egg noodle…I bought a pretty large package (it said ACTION! which meant that it was on sale) and I and my roommates have been eating on it for the past couple of days. It takes about five minutes to heat up in a skillet with a little butter (I also added some of my CHEDDAR CHEESE at the suggestion of my roommate Isa). It is one of my new found favorites!

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Cheddar Fromage

Cheddar "Fromage"

I have written a couple of times about how I have been having trouble finding some good cheese. It’s all very confusing because there are so many different varieties, but to my untrained eye they all appear the same! In the US we have easy names and we use food coloring and dyes to color our cheese so that we can differentiate, but here it’s “au natural,” and the names don’t make much sense to me.

I went grocery shopping with my [Swiss] roommate yesterday and gained some insight into the way the Swiss feel about cheese (I suppose it’s a bit of a generalization to use my roommate to represent the whole of Switzerland, but I’m gonna go with it).

First of all, there are two large categories of cheese here: there is real cheese, and there is fake cheese. When my roommate first referred to some cheese I had bought as “fake,” I thought I had made a terrible mistake. However, I realize now that “fake” simply means that the cheese has been reformed; in other words, it’s not part of an original wheel or block of cheese. I assured her that much of our cheese in the US is “fake” according to her standards, so I was not bothered much by this.

“Real” cheese, as you may have guessed, is cheese that has been cut from a wheel or block. It normally has paper, or what I would call a “rind” around at least one edge. Most of the harder cheeses have paper, and the softer cheeses have a slightly lighter colored “rind” of more pungent, smelly cheese around the edges (like brie). This is REAL cheese. It is generally stronger smelling, with strange names, and holes, and sometimes spots of discoloration. To be honest, I’m pretty intimidated by it.

As I may have mentioned before, I have been longing for some cheddar cheese. I never thought I would miss it so much. After searching and searching with no success, I finally decided to ask my roommate. To my dismay, she had no idea what I was talking about, so I decided to see if I could find it in my French/English dictionary. It was there, and in fact, it was the exact same word in French. Puzzled, I went back to tell my roommate; making a joke I said, “well, it’s the same word in French, but you probably just say ‘sheddar’ instead of ‘cheddar’!” Laughing smugly to myself, I looked up to see the recognition on her face. Indeed, this was the case. Of course, I should have known.

This was slightly discouraging to me, because now I knew that I had not simply missed it because it was called something different in French. While shopping yesterday, I decided to look one more time. This store had a very large variety of cheeses, and a deli as well, to get even fresher cheese. After looking around a bit, I decided to ask the lady behind the counter as a last ditch effort. “Ah! Oui!” Her eyes brightened as she held up one finger. She disappeared behind the big glass counter. I peered over to see her rummaging behind the rest of the cheese. She reappeared a few seconds later with a large, unopened block of CHEDDAR CHEESE! I half expected her to blow the dust off the top or cut some mold off the edges, but I was so happy to see my long lost friend that I didn’t really care. It was cheddar cheese. Not yellow. Not reformed, fake cheese. It was REAL cheddar cheese. I didn’t even look at the price, I purchased 300g.

Yesterday I ate a grilled cheese sandwich with my new cheddar cheese, and today I shredded some of the cheddar cheese and made tacos! I’m so happy!

Grocery shopping in Switzerland is definitely a task. First of all- the prices are outrageous. I bought a small package of taco seasoning (yes, the Swiss have Mexican food!!) today for chf1.80! In American dollars that’s almost the same- almost $2.00 for a package of taco seasoning that would cost maybe $0.33 in the US. I will be requesting many packs of taco seasoning by mail from Mom…

Another problem with shopping here is the fact that I dont have a car. I have to ride the metro to get anywhere really from my apartment, which means that anything I buy at the store must be carried all the way back to my place. Groceries either must be bought in much smaller quantities, or I just need to really bulk up and work on my biceps.

My first couple of trips to the store, I was looking mostly for quick, cheap meals that I could make and eat when I didn’t have much time. So, first thing that came to mind? Sandwiches! perfect. But I soon discovered that I am going to need to change my definition of a sandwich. The sliced bread here is called “toast”- and for good reason. It isnt very soft. (And it must sit in the store for a very long time because the package I bought was out of date the day I bought it! :( way to pay attention)
Also, the selection of meat for sandwiches is very limited. I have found no “real” deli meat (at least according to my definition) at all so far, and the meat that is available is funny looking and expensive. Some of it looks like very thin bologna with foreign objects embedded in the slices, while others look like thin, giant pieces of bacon (that stuff kind of scares me).
I did find one package of what appeared to be peppered turkey. It was expensive, but I bought it anyway. It proved to be fairly tasty, but not at all economical.

Before leaving, people used to always ask me if I liked Swiss cheese. I would laugh and say something along the lines of “no, I dont, but I’m sure the Swiss dont ONLY eat Swiss cheese!” I came to find out that this is true. The Swiss have a huge selection of different cheeses. All with different names and in different packages. However, I have yet to successfully tell the difference between all of these different cheeses and “Swiss cheese.” It all basically looks the same to me. It’s all white (granted, some of it has chunks of colored stuff in it) and it all looks just like Swiss cheese to me. So far, all of the cheese I have tasted here has tasted like Swiss cheese (bar that multi-pack of cheese that Chelsey bought tonight, it tasted like feet). So I may be learning to eat sandwiches without cheese, or-more likely-be acquiring a taste for white, hole-y cheese.

After realizing that meat sandwiches would not be a cheap, easy meal, I decided that I could stomach a pb&j every now and then. The selection of jellies and jams is wonderful! So many different kind of fruits and it all looks so delicious and fresh and flavorful. One small problem is that I have not been able to find any peanut butter. Nutella is the closest thing available as far as I can tell- so I may have to acquire a taste for Nutella and jelly sandwiches on crusty bread. However, I have not given up. I am sure I will find something cheap, easy, AND delicious very soon.

Next: pictures of “Swiss Stuff”!! be excited!!! :)

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