The Swiss potato wars

Chateau d'Oex, where French
starts and German ends


A lot of hot air

Originally uploaded by StripeyAnne

According to the Old Testament, there was a time when all the peoples of the world spoke the same language and thought they were rather clever, in fact very clever indeed.

This cleverness had to be boasted about somehow, so they decided to show off big time and build the enormous Tower of Babel, poking right up into heaven, God's territory, with a huge banner, naturally written in the one universal language, the Yorkshire Language, proclaiming:

'Sithee, tha knows, we're reet brainy, us.'

Now this was the God of the Old Testament, who had a bit of reputation for fire and brimstone and being rather tetchy with anyone who claimed to be more of a Supreme Being than Him. He didn't smite them with a single flick of His wrist, no, he did something far more subtle, something that would have reprecussions for the purity of Tyke. He demolished the Tower of Babel with one enormous stick of Blackpool rock (strawberry-flvoured) and threw their languages into confusion, creating other dialects, from Lancastrian to Scouse and the more exotic tongues of German, French and Cockney Rhyming Slang.. And so all the world started to babble, except one small land-locked nation, where the shadow of the Tower of Babel was not cast, whose streets were paved with gold; a land of milk, honey and chocolate, where the manna was called Potato.

The people of Switzerland lived in harmony in a very orderly and law-abiding way, taking care to tidy up after themselves and fold their duvets in the prescribed manner.

Potatoes were plentiful and the national dish of chocolate-coated honeyed potatoes were served at every meal with a large glass of full-cream milk. Everyone was happy.

Then one day two travellers came from afar, they had fought each other in the Yorkshire Pudding Wars and the Battle of the Black Pudding and were giving chase across Europe, each determined to be the victor and make their culinary way the Only Way..

The first, carrying the Sacred Pudding Tins of Yorkshire arrived from the north, exhausted, hungry. He saw the fabulous potatoes, gathering, peeling and sliced them, casting each slice into the sacred tins with the bacon, onion and lard he's stolen from the men in the striped tops and berets over the border, cooking them in milk on the fire. So tartiflette was born, and he tasted it and it was good..

The second carried the Frying Pan of Fry-Up. He had traded his last black pudding for a tub of lard and a peculiar metal sheet full of holes across the southern border where sausages were prized above all else, at least that's what he thought they said as he couldn't understand a word. He too saw the plentiful potatoes and felt his hardened arteries softening. Using the holy metal object he grated the potatoes and threw them into the pan of hot, sizzling lard, cracking an egg over the top. And so rosti was born, and he tasted it and it was good.

And the people came and ate. The Tartifletters maintained theirs was be the best, the Rostis disgreed. Each built towers and turrets in honour of their now sacred potato dishes and declared dominion.Then the wars started. All thought of Yorkshire Pudding was gone, this was about the potato. The rest is history, the two sides refused to speak to each other and invented their own languages to communicate in code, making derogatory comments about each other's sacred potatoes/ And so it is to this day, a nation divided by language and potato..

Although not marked on any map, the Rostigraben, or Rideau de Rosti is where German starts and French ends in modern Switzerland. and the potato ceases to be grated. What's more, those two Pennine counties are to blame.

Who'd have thought it, eh?

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