CHEESE | Abondance



In March we will be launching our cheese section with the story of one of the great cheeses of the French Alps, Abondance of Savoy, and five iconic recipes that feature it as an essential ingredient, like berthoud, below, a cheese gratin almost incomparable.


Berthoud à l’Abondance FRANCE cheese gratin

600 g Abondance cheese, sliced thin
60 ml sherry, Madeira
60 ml white wine, Savoy
2 garlic cloves
Black pepper, large pinch
Nutmeg, pinch

Preheat oven to 160ºC. Use caquelons or ramekins, rub with garlic and line them with cheese slices. Drizzle with sherry and wine, season. Finish under the grill, until a golden-brown crust forms, about six or seven minutes. Serve hot with crusty bread or with small potatoes and assorted meats and green salad.

PHOTO CREDIT: Patrick Brault – Office de Tourisme d’Abondance 


Small Breads (BRÖTCHEN)



Small breads, flat, round and shaped, define breakfast all over the world, but in Europe in recent years they have become essential and, not content with the basic brötchen of flour, salt, water and yeast known to early morning workers of yesteryear, today bakers make them with a range of ingredients.

We are still tweaking the content before publication in March, but here’s a teaser to whet your appetite.

Apfelmost-Brötchen SWITZERLAND bread rolls made with apple juice

Aprikosen-Brötli SWITZERLAND milk spelt bread rolls with apricots

Bagel EUROPE donut bread rolls

Baguette (Balik Ekmek / Fischbrötchen — fish sandwich)

Belfast Bap IRELAND large bread rolls filled with bacon, egg, sausage

Bułki z Cebulką POLAND bread rolls with onion

Burli SWITZERLAND bread rolls filled with pork sausage)

DDR Brötchen German Democratic Republic bread buns

Dinkel Sauerteig Brötchen GERMANY SWITZERLAND sourdough spelt bread rolls

Ensaimadas SPAIN coiled sweet bread cakes

Freselle ITALY toasted ring bread

Frikadellen Brötchen LIECHTENSTEIN meatball in bread roll

Gewürzzopf Brötchen SWITZERLAND spiced braid bread rolls

Hölzlibrötli SWITZERLAND spiralled milk bread rolls

Housky salted bread rolls

Huffa ENGLAND large bread rolls filled with bacon, egg, sausage

Kartoffel-Baumnuss-Brötchen SWITZERLAND potato and walnut bread rolls

Käse-Brötchen SWITZERLAND cheese bread rolls

Korvapuustit FINLAND cinnamon bread rolls

Laugenbrötchen GERMANY lye breads

Laugenbrötli gefüllt mit Streichkäse GERMANY SWITZERLAND glazed milk-rolls with cream cheese

Maisbrötchen SWITZERLAND corn and spelt bread rolls

Milchbrötchen / Mutschli GERMANY SWITZERLAND crispy milk (spelt and wheat) bread rolls

Morotsfrallor carrot bread rolls Apfelmost-Brotchen-Cut-Out.lowres

Nussbrötli GERMANY SWITZERLAND walnut bread rolls

Ostfriesische Teebrötchen GERMANY East Freisland tea bread rolls

Pan de Hamburguesa SPAIN burger buns

Panino all’olio ITALY olive oil bread rolls

Rosinenbrötchen SWITZERLAND raisin bread rolls

Rundstykker poppy seed coated bread rolls

Uri Art Birnweggli SWITZERLAND Uri-style pear and nut bread rolls

Weggli SWITZERLAND soft bread rolls

Zeeuwse Bolussen NETHERLANDS Zealand sugar bread rolls

Zöpfliknoten SWITZERLAND honey-saffron semi-spelt milk bread buns

Zuckerbrötchen sweet, sugar coated bread rolls

Cazzilli / Crocchè ITALY cheese and potato croquettes


1 kg potatoes, peeled, boiled, mashed
3 eggs
125 g parmigano cheese / pecorino cheese, grated
75 g fresh breadcrumbs
15 ml milk
5 g black pepper
5 g nutmeg

Preheat oven to 220ºC. Add 75 g of cheese to two eggs, nutmeg and pepper to the potatoes. Beat third egg separately with a tablespoon of milk. Whisk remaining egg into the milk. Combine remaining cheese with breadcrumbs. Make cylindrical shapes with the potato mixture, coat each croquette in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumbs and cheese. Place on a greased baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes.

The Carbonara Conundrum

Fried Pork Cheek

Via di Ripetta radiates from the Piazza di Popolo, the poplar tree lined square at Rome’s northern gate, continues away from the chapel of the miracle toward the tomb of Augustus and the museum of his solar clock, the ara pacis, parallel with the meandering Tiber. Here street and river depart, the Tiber twists like a snake toward the Vatican City, the Ripetta runs straight as a die into an odd-shaped four-sided junction and becomes Via della Scrofa, the alley of Scrofa.

American soldiers arriving in the city from Anzio in the south-west and Cassino in the south, attracted by the ruins of the Colosseum and the Forum, the contrast of modern and contemporary Rome with Michelangelo’s hilltop square, the marble temple monument to the fallen of the First World War, the statue of Vittorio Emanuele II – Italy’s last king, and the expansive Piazza Venezia wouldhave drifted into a warren of streets around the high-sided domed Pantheon. And found themselves in a nearby street known for its taverns and trattoria – the alley of Scrofa.

Here, in June 1944, a cook in a trattoria produced a pasta dish dressed with bacon, cheese and eggs to feed the liberators, believing they would devour anything with eggs and bacon. The dish spread through the city and became known as spaghetti alla carbonara.

A nice story, yes? True? Let’s look at the evidence.

Eggs in a Basket.lowres

American quartermasters would have had access to smoked bacon and eggs (fresh and powdered). American soldiers’ Italian girlfriends graciously repaid gifts of bacon and eggs with a pasta dish that was a wonderful repast compared to war rations. Did a trattoria chef benefit from this arrangement? And produce an iconic dish?

Italians find amusement in the stories about the origins of their traditional dishes. Popular traditional recipes resided for centuries in the consciousness of those who cooked in the home and in the trattoria, and rarely did the stories – never mind the ingredients and methods ever get written down. They were passed down by rote.

Carbonara has numerous origins. There are the woodsmen in the central Italian regions of Abruzzo and Lazio who brought eggs, pecorino and guanciale (preserved pork cheek and pork belly) and dried pasta on their trips. Because guanciale was preserved with black pepper, when it was added to the dish it produced dark specks that resembled charcoal. Add the coincidence between carbonara and carbonada, the Abruzzese word for pancetta. And the fact that the region’s charcoal farmers known as the “Carbonari” were very fond of pasta with pork, cheese and eggs.

That pasta dishes should be made with bacon, cheese and eggs – ingredients that are associated with the type of pastoralism practiced in the hills and mountains of Abruzzo and Lazio – that such dishes should have a generic name among the people, and that migrant workers from the Apennines should bring them to Rome is equally plausible. Not so plausible is the argument that this combination has always existed in Rome. Carbonara did not become generally known until the 1950s, when variations of the recipe began to appear in cookbooks.

This brings us back to the “American” origin. Before the Anzio landing in January 1944, the Americans found themselves in Naples, with ample time to frequent the port city’s alleys and lanes. Along with folded pizza, spaghetti was a Neapolitan street food served with a meagre garnish of grated black pepper and grated pecorino cheese. According to legend an American G.I. tasted the spaghetti and decided it needed more flavour. This ingenious soldier added some powdered egg, a little smoked bacon and canned evaporated (condensed) milk.


Italians like to believe spaghetti alla carbonara comes from both traditions. The Americans arrived in the province of Lazio at Anzio on the coast, and at Cassino in the mountains, in January 1944. They fought a battle for the abbey at Monte Cassino and gradually moved through the valleys of Lazio to arrive in Rome in early summer. During almost six months in central Italy they adapted the traditional pasta dish known as carbonara, and thrived on it.

They replaced the guanciale with their smoked bacon, they added condensed milk but they preferred the local version made with fresh eggs. Remembering the name the dish was known by in the mountains, they adopted it. Within a year of the ending of the war, trattoria in Naples and Rome were offering pasta alla carbonara.

In 1947 the English cookery writer Elizabeth David began to compile recipes for “A Book of Mediterranean Food”. She mentioned three spaghetti dishes, vis: Neapolitan with garlic and olive oil, Neapolitan with garlic and tomatoes and Sicilian with anchovies, bacon, garlic, mushrooms, olives, onions and olive oil. In 1954 she returned to Italy to research her “Italian Food” cookbook. She mentioned the various types of pasta available in Italy and she gave a recipe for maccheroni alla carbonara. She said it could also be made with rigatoni.

Her version, for four people, included two eggs beaten, 120 g cured pork cut into strips fried in butter and grated parmigiano. She suggested mixing the pork into the eggs and adding the mixture to the hot cooked pasta, stirring until the eggs thicken and “present a slightly granulated appearance”.

She said it was “a Roman dish”.

As for the authenticity of carbonara, we would like to think there are two versions, one that is traditional to Apennine rural life (and Rome) and one that is traditional to the event that was the American liberation (and Naples), one without cream and with cured pork, one with cream and with bacon.

Today the choice of pasta is crucial, it should be a thin strip pasta that can hold the egg or cream-egg mixture, macaroni and penne are too thick!

The Roman recipe is simple, it is as much pasta as you like, one egg per person, a good quantity of cured pork and as much grated cheese as you want.

The Neopolitan recipe is only different because any type of bacon can be used, with cream to make the dish rich enough to fill empty bellies.

Around the World in 80 Legendary Dishes – The Book


—Aloo Saag EUROPE INDIAN SUB-CONTINENT spiced spinach and potatoes

—Älplermagronen mit Wirz LIECHTENSTEIN macaroni, cheese, cabbage / potatoes with onion rings

—Banitsa BULGARIA cheese, egg and yoghurt filo pastry

—Bratkartoffeln mit Speck und Zwiebeln GERMANY fried potatoes with bacon, onion and spices

—Bratwürst mit Zwiebelsauce mit Rösti SWITZERLAND sausage and onion sauce with fried potatoes

—Bryndzové Halušky SLOVAKIA potato dumplings with Bryndza cheese and smoked bacon

—Bubur Cha-Cha MALAYSIA SINGAPORE coconut, sago / sweet potato / taro dessert

—Cappelletti in Brodo SAN MARINO filled pasta hats in beef broth

—Caws Pobi Welsh rarebit WALES cheese on toast

—Cerdo Jerk / Jerk Pork JAMAICA spiced pork

—Chervonyy Borsch UKRAINE red stew

—Chicons au Gratin BELGIUM chicory / endive with cheese and ham

—De Kapsalon BELGIUM NETHERLANDS hairdresser – fries, shoarma meat, cheese, salad and sauce

—Diǎn Xīn (Dim Sum) CHINA steamed savoury dumplings

—Djúpsteiktur Fiskur ICELAND deep-fried battered haddock

—Düğün Pilavi / Riz bi Dfeen TURKEY LEVANT rice with lamb and chickpeas

—Dum Biryani INDIA Rice with Chicken / Lamb / Vegetable, Dried Fruit, Nuts, Seeds and Spices

—Espetada PORTUGAL skewered garlic beef

—Farshirovannyye Gusinoy Kasha Фаршированные Гусиной Каша RUSSIA stuffed goose with cream, nut, semolina skin

—Fiskefars / Fiskefarse DENMARK ICELAND SWEDEN NORWAY poached fish balls

—Fondue Rustique FRANCE SWITZERLAND Appenzeller, Emmental, Gruyère, Vacherin Fribourgeois

—Ful Medames EGYPT fava beans with cumin, lemon juice, olive oil, onions and tahini

—Gado-Gado INDONESIA vegetable salad with peanut sauce and prawn crackers

—Gjel Deti me Përshesh ALBANIA turkey with corn bread

—Gizzada CARIBBEAN coconut custard tarts

—Grønlangkål med Skinke DENMARK kale with ham and caramelised potatoes

—Halep Dolması TURKEY stuffed dried aubergines, Gaziantep style

—Hobotnica Ispod Peke BALKANS slow-cooked octopus

—Hurmašice BOSNIA HERZEGOVINA syrup cakes

—Icli Köfte TURKEY SYRIA LEVANT beef and bulgur meatballs

—Imqarrun il-forn MALTA pasta, cheese and meat bake – old and new versions

—Jegulju na Orizu MONTENEGRO roasted eels on rice

—Jollof WEST AFRICA spicy tomato rice with beef / lamb

—Judd mat Gaardebounen LUXEMBOURG smoked pork collar with broad bean sauce

—Kalamarákia Yemistá AEGEAN MEDITERRANEAN squid stuffed with rice

—Kalbsrahmgulasch mit Sauerrahmspätzle AUSTRIA LIECHTENSTEIN veal stew with sour cream dumplings

—Khorovats ARMENIA barbecued lamb chops, aubergine, peppers, tomatoes

—Kibbeh LEBANON SYRIA TURKEY spiced bulgur and meat

—Kilusalat ESTONIA BALTIC sprat, potato and onion salad

—Koupepia EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN rolled vine leaves stuffed with meat and rice

—Kostica Костица MOLDOVA barbecued juicy pork on the bone


—Lečo / Leczo / Lescó / Letscho AUSTRIA CZECH REPUBLIC GERMANY HUNGARY POLAND SLOVAKIA SLOVENIA UKRAINE onion, paprika, red pepper, tomato sauce / stew

—L’estocafic / E’stocafi MONACO cod / stockfish stew

—Mămăliguţă cu brânză şi Smântână ROMANIA cornmeal, curd cheese, sour cream with bacon

—Merluza en Jamón Serrano SPAIN hake in ham

—Mešano Meso SERBIA mixed grill

—Moros y Cristianos CUBA CARIBBEAN black beans and white rice

—Moussakás / Moussaka GREECE MACEDONIA MONTENEGRO aubergine and meat bake

—Nasi Goreng BALI INDONESIA breakfast rice

—Norwegian Buffet Breakfast NORWAY bacon, bread, cheese {Gamalost, Gudbrandsdalsost, Jarlsberg, Pultost, Ridder, Snøfrisk}, crackers, eggs, herrings, pickles, potato pancakes and more

—Oeufs à la Pipérade BASQUE sweet peppers with eggs

—Quiche avec le Maquereau Fumé et la Bettes FRANCE custard pie with smoked mackerel and chard

—Pastél / Pasteli / Pastelli CYPRUS GREECE sesame snaps

—Pečená Kachní Prsa CZECH REPUBLIC roast duck breasts

—Peshwari Naan INDIAN SUB-CONTINENT aromatic flatbread

—Pita Zeljanica BOSNIA HERZEGOVINA cheese and spinach pies

—Plovlar Xocalı as Qarası AZERBAIJAN rice with apricot, chestnuts, lamb / mutton, onion, plum, prune, raisin, turmeric

—Poronkäristys FINLAND reindeer, potatoes and lingonberry sauce

—Pyshki Piterskiye RUSSIA St Petersburg ‘donuts’

—Ræst lamb FAROE ISLANDS fermented lamb

—Ribarski Brodet CROATIA prawns, squid, white fish stew with beans and lemon juice

—Risotto alla Po Delta Melon con Gamberetti ITALY rice with Po Delta melon and shrimp

—Rosto GIBRALTAR pasta with meat and vegetables in tomato sauce

—Sate / Satay SOUTHEAST ASIA MAYAYSIA skewered meat with spicy peanut sauce

—Sayadiyah ARABIA EGYPT LEVANT SYRIA fish fillets and prawns with rice

—Shashlyk / Šašlykai Шашлык ARMENIA, GEORGIA, LITHUANIA, RUSSIA, UKRAINE skewered marinated lamb, beef or pork spit-roasted and served with lemon sauce, flat bread, gherkins and beer

—Spaghetti alla Carbonara / Spaghetti Carbonara ITALY USA pasta with egg, cured pork cheek and cheese

—Speķa Pīrāgi LATVIA bread rolls stuffed with pork crackling / bacon

—Štruklji Sirovi SLOVENIA savoury / sweet filled pastries

—Teriyaki / Teri Chicken POLYNESIA chicken in sour-sweet fruit sauce

—Tinolang Bangus PHILLIPINES gingered milkfish soup

—Tira de Asado / Chimichurri ARGENTINA CHILE PARAQUAY URUGUAY barbecued short ribs / parsley spice mixture

—Tiroler Schmarrn AUSTRIA torn sweet pancake

—Topik ARMENIA LEVANT stuffed chickpea and potato balls

—Trinxat ANDORRA CATALONIA bacon, cabbage and potato

—Youvarlakia Avgolémono GREECE meat and rice balls in egg-lemon sauce

—Vatapá BRAZIL chicken with prawns in coconut and peanut sauce

—Wellington Pies NEW ZEALAND lamb pies


Alpine Food Culture Frozen in Time

What’s to eat? Pot-stew, what else? ROBERT ALLEN reports on an enduring ancient tradition


Bolzano / Bozen is the ’Gateway to the Dolomites’. Here the traditional food is quintessentially alpine, where history is never-ending, and where the modern societies of Austrian and Italian South Tyrol have been defined by a fantastic discovery.

The iceman known as Ötzi was found lying in melt-water on a granite slab in a gully strewn with large boulders, a few metres from the Italian border with Austria, 3210 metres above sea level.

Hikers Erika and Helmut Simon, from Nuremberg, made the discovery at one thirty in the afternoon of Thursday, September 19, 1991. They were descending the Finail peak in the Tisenjoch area of the Ötztal Alps. A four-meter-high stone pyramid now marks the find-site.

Ötzi was not, as some have surmised, a herder, bringing animals to graze the rich pastures of the high slopes. And, despite the romantic assumptions, he was not a hunter-gatherer. He came from a valley community – about 1000 metres below Tisen, hardly more than half a day’s hike away – that subsisted on agriculture and herding. Ötzi had consumed bread and deer meat shortly before his absurd death.

Much has been made about the discovery and condition of his mummy, but if Ötzi’s stomach contents reveal anything, it is one amazing fact. The traditional foods of the Alpine regions have not changed much in over 5,000 years.

The general diet of Ötzi’s community would have included cooked, dried and smoked meat (from deer, goat, ibex, pig, sheep), flatbreads (more like biscuits made from coarsely ground cultivated grains), a pot-stew (eintöpf) containing cereals, dried meat and greens, and probably cheese from cow’s, goat’s and sheep’s milk.

Carbohydrates from barley, einkorn and emmer grains, minerals and vitamins from berries, fruits, grains, herbs, leaves and seeds, and protein from various meats were essential to the well-being of his community.

Ötzi was undoubtably a hunter, a member of an elite group, skilled in bow and arrow work, an experienced and knowledgeable hiker and tracker, and he was probably killed by accident doing a job that would ensure the survival of his community!

Andreas Putzer is an archaeologist based at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano / Bozen. He believes he has resolved some of the mysteries surrounding Ötzi’s life and death. ‘His diet was based mainly on game, ibex and deer, which links him to hunting,’ he says as a matter of course, stating an undoubtable fact.

Specialised hunting of big game had become a prestigious activity for the high rollers of Ötzi’s community. His clothing and equipment suggest he was integral to the hunting culture. The hunters, says Putzer, made their own weapons. ‘Ötzi had a very sophisticated bow, he used the best materials – the best wood to make the shaft, the best flint to make the arrow-head, jew, which is strong and flexible, for the bow; he was very up-to-date for his period.’

He had an intimate knowledge of the mountain terrain and was blessed with extraordinary stamina. He was fit and strong, a veteran in the use of a bow. His aim would have been straight. Unlike one of his companions!

Ötzi had been shot and this has prompted theories about dark motives. Equally plausible is the possibility that his death was not preordained. Putzer, while not dismissing the idea that Ötzi was the victim of a feud, is more interested in the reasons for his presence in the high mountains.

‘They hunted close to their settlements. They needed to hunt because they could not kill their domestic animals. So we have to think they had crop failure. What do you do if you want to eat? The only possibility is to hunt.’

‘The ibex and deer followed different routes and the hunters would have known where they were at different times of the year. The ibex, in particular, roamed close to where (Ötzi) was found.’ ‘I think it is possible (he was shot by accident). The only strange thing is that they left him up there.’

Strange because Ötzi would have been a hero in his community. The colder climate of the period had reduced agricultural yields, says Putzer, ‘forcing the population to compensate for the loss of calories in the diet with meat derived from hunting activity’. Ötzi provided that food. He died where he fell, preserved by ice that crept imperceptibly over his body for thousands of years.

Now we are fascinated by this iceman, which does not surprise Putzer. ‘There is a fascination because there is a body and humans identity with their own, also we have his clothes, his equipment … the mummy makes this archeological find more human. You see his clothes, we all wear clothes, you discover his physical problems – he had arthrorois and you say “I have arthrorois”; he was lactose intolerant, “I am also lactose intolerant”. This makes him close to people, that is why he is so famous.‘

Today a walker in the high Alps might eat a meal similar to the last one Ötzi consumed, and not be expected to share the same fate!


South Tyrol