Switzerland / Flims Waldhaus 1970 - 1971
THE MOUNTAIN CHAPTER
Mr. Viscardi helped me to find a job as Chef de Partie in Flims Waldhaus Park Hotel which is one of the small mountainous winter resort area in the heart of Switzerland.
Chef de Partie means section chef and for me, an absolute break-through in this outstanding profession. I was in charge of the grill and roasting section as Chef Rotisseur, a leader over three commis.
This three young cooks guided me properly by explaining the true sense of a winter season. They told me that it is not like as it is written in my contract " No Skiing/ No...." It was exactly the opposite. Winter season is the reason for skiing and I accepted immediately.
I stood for the first time on this beautiful mountain and saw several black markers, indication the number of people who had died on those spots, 3,000-or-so metres high and close to God Himself. I was enjoying the view when I suddenly got this heavy ghud on my back. It seems that this idiot from the mountain had forgotten how to break and had pushed me directly into this funny hospital or breakage inspection centre. X-ray-Broke. Out of order. Shoe gone. Skies gone. Pants cut into pieces.
When the doctor saw me, his face was ashen white and there was much concern in his voice.
"You will not work as a cook anymore because one of the stabilizer pieces is broken."
"Here is a stick. Now, try to move home."
I limped home with a white plaster cast around my leg. The Personnel Manager later informed me directly that I had broken the terms of the contract and must move out immediately!
I was still staying at the staff Quarters. The first day went along fine but I became bloodily hungry for food on the following day. On the third day, I was thinking about the soldiers and the POWs in the 2nd World War in Russia who had starved to death. I knocked my plaster cast against the brick wall. The plaster broke, my foot got free and there was no pain and nothing felt broken. I then worked my way back to the doctor who had examined me and in a friendly manner tried to explain about the small mistake understood by that many ski accidents.
I returned to the personnel Manger and explained that we (the doctor and I) had only made a joke. He accepted it with a deduction of a weeks salary for three days leave.
These mountainous town was so cold that even the snow froze to nothing. At night, our cooks went for an outing to Beiz Poestli, a cross between a restaurant and a pub which was close to the post office.
Here, you can drink Veltliner Red Wine till you are completely stoned and still feel cold when you stepped outside. Probably, the alcohol content was low but it had a fantastic taste!
Moreover, the Buendner area is famous for the cheese and dry meat products.
The Executive Chef, Mr. Julien, in flims Waldhaus was remarkable. Shortly after the season started, a little Busboy who is actually a service runner showed him his true feeling by mentioning "Fankulu", similar to the meaning of "F*** off", but actually means "a**hole."
It gave my Chef his first stroke. He returned after two months before his second stroke, a few days later gave him a free pension. The little Busboy earned with his break-through an outstanding personality.
I believe he is today General Manager in an Italian Mafia hotel.
The local Recipe
GREAT FOOD FOR COLD OR HOT //// BUENDNER PLATTE
CURED DRY MEAT WITH PICKLES.
THE CENTRAL GRISON AREA OF SWITZERLAND OFFERS ONE OF THE BEST COLD CUTS YOU WILL FIND IN THE WORLD. IN THIS HIGH DRY MOUNTAIN, YOU COULD FIND THE WORLDS MOST FAMOUS AIR-CURED BEEF "BUENDNER FLEISCH", THE CURED HAM "BUENDNER SCHINKEN" AND THE DRIED, SMALL, SQUARE LOOKING, SALAMI-TYPE SAUSAGE - "SALZIS." THESE ARE THE MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR THE BUENDNER PLATTER. FILL A LARGE WOODEN PLATE LOOSELY WITH PAPER THIN SLICES OF DRIED MEAT. GARNISH WITH CORNICHONS AND PICKLED ONIONS. ADD FRESHLY GROUNDED BLACK PEPPER, VELTLINER WINE, DEFTI BROWN BREAD WITH FRESH FARM BUTTER. SERVE BY AN OPEN FIREPLACE FOR A MEMORABLE DINNER.
LIQUID CHEESE / KASES FOUDUE
CHEESE FONDUE IS ESPECIALLY INTERESTING FOR LOVERS OR FOR A SMALL GATHERING WITH FRIENDS BECAUSE EATING OUT OF ONE POT OF THIS HOT DELICACY BRINGS WARMTH, TOGETHERNESS AND CHEER.
TAKE AN EARTHEN WARE (FIRE-PROOF) AND RUB INSIDE WITH GARLIC CLOVES. FILL IT UP WITH FENDANT WHITE WINE AND BRING IT TO BOIL. GRADUALLY FOLD IN THE GRATED EMMENTAL AND GRUYERE CHEESE BY STEADILY STIRRING TILL THE CHEESE AND WINE FORM A PERFECT EMULSION WITH A CREAM LIKE LOOK. ADD KIRSCH AND STARCH MIXTURE TO GIVE THE FINAL TASTE AND SMOOTH CONSISTENCY. THE FONDUE IS PLACED ON A RECHAUD TO KEEP THE CHEESE LIQUIDIZED. SERVE WITH WALNUT SIZE CUT BREAD WHICH ARE PIERCED ONTO LONG FONDUE FORKS TO ENABLE DIPPING IN THE HOT CHEESE. IF YOU LIKE, ADD MORE KIRSCH AND GRATED BLACK PEPPER....SWITZERLAND WITHOUT CHEESE FONDUE IS LIKE AUSTRALIA WITHOUT AYERS ROCK!