CHEESE roasting on an open fire? Raclette rocks!

03 Mar

The heart and hearth at Nemoz Auberge, click on hearth to visit their website.

Forget about chestnuts roasting over an open fire, it’s all about the cheese! If you’re like me, you’d never even heard of raclette. When someone tried to explain to me what it was, I was far from thrilled to say the least. I was familiar with fondue, but that was only for special occasions and was very expensive for just, well, cheese. Raclette isn’t fondue where the cheese, white wine and garlic are melted in a heated bowl and your bread is dipped into the pool of cheesy yummy-ness. Actually, I have just finished my research on raclette just now, by having it for lunch. See what pain staking research I do for my readers? ;0). In all seriousness, raclette rocks! What is it? So glad you asked!

It is, well, cheese. Not just any cheese mind you, but a cheese that you melt in front of an open fire. There are mini ovens that do this too, but you can’t beat the real thing. I could imagine the people in the snow-covered mountains after a hard day of farming, would get their bellies and souls fed with this one. When the raclette is melted in the traditional way with the fire, you get the smoky, buttery, nutty flavor that permiates the cheese, begging to be put on a potato and enjoyed with a dry white wine of your choice. I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that raclette cheese when heated is very much like the smell of dirty socks. But, if you can get past the initial smell (and you will) it is well worth it. I can’t really explain the feeling I get when I eat raclette other than, it just makes me happy. It is simple fare, but delicious.

How raclette is served

‘Racler’ is a verb in French, meaning to ‘scrape’, describes exactly how the process works. The cheese is melted in front of an open fire until it begins to melt. Then, the melted cheese is scraped off and served with boiled potatoes, cured meats and pickles. The process continues until you can hold, as my dad would say, “nary another bite.”

Raclette originally hails from the French part of Switzerland, hence the French roots. But is very much a part of France’s mountain culture as well, particularly in the regions of Auvergne, Savoie, Franche-Comté and Bretagne where the cow’s milk cheese is produced. Although it is certain that this dish is still enjoyed by its traditional set (farmers) now, we all have the joy of experiencing this dish. The only difference is that we would have it after a long day of hiking or skiing talking about how much fun we had versus how long and hard our day was just to survive.

How lucky are we? We owe so much to our ancestors, more than we can ever know. Maybe that is why raclette makes me happy. Maybe part of me is connected to them (our ancestry) in some way, as I enjoy the raclette. In any case, I appreciate their sacrifices, whether in the form of raclette, civil rights, immigration rights or other untold freedoms we now take for granted. Bon appétit, y’all.


Posted by on March 3, 2011 in Daily life in France


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14 responses to “CHEESE roasting on an open fire? Raclette rocks!

  1. stracciastella

    March 3, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Yay! Raclette! It’s so funny, next to your blog I’m also reading another one which is also about living in France. And recently there was a post about Raclette too!
    So, I have to say – very interesting post! 😀 (I’m always happy whenever I see something concerning Switzerland’s mentioned in a blog…)

    • expatriotgames

      March 4, 2011 at 7:20 am

      Hello again, Stella! Yes, Switzerland is still on my list of places to visit. I DEFINITELY will try raclette from its origin gladly! ;0). Really, two posts on raclette, huh? Well, what do you know. I will have to check that one out too. Oh, and by the way, Happy Belated Birthday ;0). Read you soon!

  2. stracciastella

    March 7, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Yay, that’s cool! 🙂
    (You want the link?)
    Thanks! 🙂

  3. Joan Wolckenhauer

    March 8, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    I, too, enjoyed Raclette while studying in Switzerland. I laughed at your comment with regard to it initially smelling like “dirty socks!” I had forgotten about that part of this delicious dish. I had a good laugh from a fond memory!

    • expatriotgames

      March 8, 2011 at 4:50 pm

      Hi there Joan! Ooh, so glad you are a lover of stinky socks, uh I mean raclette too ;0). Thank goodness it doesn’t TASTE like it smells, huh?

  4. Michi

    March 9, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE cheese. My secret fantasy is learning to make my very own! And one of the top best things about living in Europe? – the CHEESE!

    In Portugal they have one that is somewhat similar to Raclette – they serve it whole, and cut an opening in the wax at the top and center, and inside you’ll find melted flavorful deliciousness. Mmmmmmm….

  5. Michi

    March 17, 2011 at 4:21 am

    YAY!! Okay, I’m a total nerd but this site is so much fun!! Thanks! 🙂

  6. followingcaminho

    March 26, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Ohhh, raclette! I absolutely adore it!
    A French friend of mine invited a group of friends over just for the “raclette-evening” last year. I enjoyed it loads! The food was great, the delicious wine followed… what else did we need? 😀
    I’m a terrible chees-oh!-holic 😉

    • expatriotgames

      March 26, 2011 at 4:44 pm

      Hi Maja, sounds like you, Michi and myself need to go to some ‘cheese anonymous’ meetings, lol. So glad you are in the raclette fan club ;0). Thanks for reading and commenting!


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