If you love fondue, you’ll love
What is French
Everyone’s heard of fondue, but
So exactly what is French
People in France and French-speaking parts of Switzerland refer to this cheesy melted dish simply as “R
But there are differences between how
So for the purpose of this article, I’ll be using the term French
Raclette is two things at once.
Once the cheese is heated, you scrape the melty, gooey cheese goodness like a thick sauce over bread or a plate of different accompaniments such as boiled potatoes, pickled onions, gherkins, veggies, or cold meats.
What’s so special about French
If you love the idea of cheese fondue and the fun social atmosphere of letting guests do their own cooking at the table, you’ll love French
It’s an easy but delicious meal you can prepare in advance for a cozy family dinner or a large hungry crowd.
And although sharing food from a single cheese fondue pot is fun, it’s not as fun as
Because everyone grills their creations,
Plus, you don’t have to make a cheese fondue recipe in advance or keep the fondue warm on the table. Clean-up is also easier than fondue.
And if you have kids, they’ll love it too.
My first French
I had French
My friend assumed I knew what she was talking about, as casually as if she were talking about something as familiar as toast.
However, this was in 2011, the same year we moved to France, so there were still many unknowns to me regarding French food and culture back then.
I learned pretty quickly that this cheesy melted
Long story short, I fell in love with French
After living in France for over a decade, I’ve enjoyed countless French
Raclette is a little different than Swiss Raclette.
Although very similar, S
Swiss people generally eat their
A traditional Swiss
- Boiled potatoes
- Something pickled, such as cornichons or pearl onions
- A sprinkle of pepper.
- Maybe some cherry tomatoes or onions to put on the cheese before melting.
Almost anything goes in French
In addition to potatoes,
It’s unusual to include mountains of charcuterie meats in a classic Swiss
In addition to cold cuts, and depending on the person, French
- Baguettes are also a popular side dish to eat with French
A swiss person would find all these additional accompaniments very strange.
And a French person would find it odd that Swiss
Although most Swiss people eat their
What is Speck and Grison?
SPECK: this is a type of cured meat that originates from the Tyrol region of Italy. It’s similar to prosciutto and looks a lot like bacon, but it’s made from pork leg instead of belly.
GRISON MEAT: Also known as Bündnerfleisch, is a type of lean, air-dried beef from the Grisons region of Switzerland.
Raclette is popular in many other European countries too
Raclette is not only popular in Switzerland and France but also in neighbouring countries that have Alpine regions, such as Italy, Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein, especially during the cold winter months.
Each country where
For instance, German
My Dutch friends like to use a
The critical ingredient in a
In France, the cheese used in a French
People in France are open to using other cheeses in a
raclettemeal. A big no no in Switzerland.
However, Swiss and French
In terms of taste, Swiss and French
The best way to determine which type of
A lot of people in France and Switzerland buy their
raclettecheese at their local grocery store where it usually comes pre sliced in small packages in different flavours; smoked, nature, and pepper for example.
You can also find artisan quality Swiss and French
Raclette mean, or why is it called Raclette?
The French word “raclette” refers to how the
Raclette is from the French verb “to scrape” (racler), which is borrowed from “rasclar” in Occitan, another Romance language spoken in parts of Spain, Italy and rural parts of southern France,
Raclette = Raclettecheese: it’s always masculine and uses the article “LE.”
Raclette = Raclettemeal: It’s always feminine and uses the article “LA.”
- Appareils à
raclette: This is what you call the raclette grill in French. The racletteheating appliance is used to heat and melt the cheese during the raclettemeal.
- Pelle à
Racletteaka Poêlon: Racletteshovel, aka mini skillet, where you place cheese, which you then slide under the grill of the Raclette.
- Spatule à
Raclette = Raclettespatula for scraping the cheese off the mini racletteskillet pan. Usually made of wood, but some are made of plastic.
- Racleur: Usually, in a restaurant, the person who scrapes the melted cheese off the half wheel of
raclettecheese for you.
A squeegee is also called une
racletteà vitre (window scraper)
How do you eat, prepare and serve
Most importantly, to eat French
Most people use a tabletop electric
Raclette grills come in all shapes and sizes, from round ones and square ones, to multi level
These multi functional recette grills sometimes have a reversible griddle, with one side for grilling meat and veggies and the other for making
There are even tea-light-powered
I wrote a whole article about the different types of
raclette grills: Usually used in restaurants
When you eat
Then, once the side of the
In French, this
You can buy these for home use, but that would involve getting a huge wheel of
They are also hard to store due to their awkward configuration and larger clunky size.
Most people who enjoy
How to setup and serve a
raclette meal: The basics
- Place the
raclette machinewhere everyone can access it, like in the centre of the table or on a countertop.
- Plug in the electric
raclettemachine and let it warm up for about 10 or 15 minutes before you’re ready to eat.
- Each person will need their own mini
racletteskillet. This is where you place the cheese, which you put under the griddle to let the cheese melt.
- Prepare all the accompaniments and pre-cut if necessary, such as sliced mushrooms and pre-boiling potatoes with the skin on. Then place everything on the table.
- Don’t forget to put out slices of cheese for guests to melt.
When it’s time to eat, everyone grabs a slice of cheese and puts it on their mini skillet under the griddle. Once the cheese has melted, pour it over the cooked food and enjoy.
You’ll know the cheese is ready when it starts to bubble. Then, scrape the cheese off the mini
One of the most gratifying aspects of using a tabletop
While the cheese is melting, you can also place other things to grill on the griddle, like mushrooms, zucchini, thin slices of chicken fish or whatever you want.
You might be interested in reading: 17 Famous French stinky cheeses adored in France, feared by others
The pros and cons of serving French
Raclette for a family meal or dinner party
RACLETTE PROS: As far as I’m concerned, there are more pros than cons to doing a
- Raclette is an interactive, fun, hands-on social experience. Everyone gathers around the table, grabbing ingredients to cook on the
raclettemachine and scraping melted cheese onto their plates.
- It’s an easy meal to prepare since you only have to precook the potatoes and prep other bite-sized ingredients which you place on the table. The guests do the rest.
- You don’t need a recipe. All you need is cheese, pre-boiled potatoes, bread, and a
raclettemachine, and you’re good to go.
- Everything can be prepared and laid out on the table in advance.
- You can get creative with ingredients and even use leftovers or ingredients on hand, like that half a zucchini lingering in the fridge.
- You can feed a large group of people without spending hours in the kitchen.
- You can invite your vegetarian friends and even your vegan friends over. Just serve sliced veggies on the table so vegans can cook themselves on the
raclettegrill with their bread and potatoes. Also, an array of meltable vegan cheeses is available that taste pretty good. I should know. My son’s French girlfriend is a vegan.
- Depending on the model, you can also cook
crepeson some raclettegrills because some have a reversible griddle specifically for making crepesor pancakes. But you could cook eggs too.
RACLETTE CONS: Serving a
- You need a
raclettemachine. If you don’t have one, they can get pricey, but there are inexpensive ones too.
- Unless you use a tea-light-powered
raclettegrill, you need to plug in the electric raclettemachine somewhere.
- Since the
raclettemachine is usually placed in the middle of the table, the chord of electric grills can get in the way, and you may need an extension cord.
raclettemeal may be too rich and heavy for some people’s taste.
- Cleaning up the
raclettemachine is sometimes a hassle because of the melted cheese left behind on the mini raclettepans. But it’s still easier than cleaning a fondue pot.
- Raclette machines are sometimes hard to store if you’re short on space.
Raclette vs Fondue:
Here’s a table outlining some key differences between
||Need a fondue pot|
|Cheese used||Raclette cheese: but can use mother sermon hard cheeses.|| Typically a combination of
|Preparation||Everyone melts their own cheese on a
||Cheese is melted and kept warm in a pot on a stove or portable burner, then served with bread or other dippers.|
|Ingredients||Typically served with boiled potatoes, charcuterie, pickled cornichons, onion, and sometimes vegetables and bread.||Typically served with bread or vegetables for dipping into the melted cheese.|
|Serving style||Guests assemble their plates by adding melted cheese and accompaniments as they, please.||Guests typically dip food into a communal pot of melted cheese|
Raclette vs Gratin
|Cooking Method||Everyone melts their own cheese on a
||They are baked in the casserole dish in the oven.
It is topped with a browned crust, often using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg or butter.
|Cheese||Raclette cheese: Semi-hard cheese that has a mild and nutty flavour. But you can use any semi-hard meltable cheese.||Gruyere cheese: Hard cheese with a slightly nutty and sweet taste.|
|Ingredients||It was typically served with boiled potatoes, charcuterie, pickled cornichons & onion, and sometimes roasted vegetables and bread.||Potatoes, cream, milk, butter, and sometimes garlic or onion.|
What are the origins of
Raclette? Is it from Switzerland or France?
If you ask a Swiss person where
So which is it? Is
Like French fries (that’s chips to you Brits), which both France and Belgium claim they invented, the origins of
Then there is the issue of boundaries that have changed over time.
The history of
This was before Switzerland and France were called by their current country names.
So it’s difficult to pinpoint 100% the exact origin of the
Let me explain:
Switzerland in 1291 was still part of the Frankish (German) empire.
The eastern part of current-day Switzerland belonged to the Duchy of Swabia, which was part of the German (Frankish) kingdom that existed through 1313 under the holy Roman empire.
The western part of current-day Switzerland, which includes the Alps and where
Although many people associate Burgundy with France, the name is based on the Burgundians, a Germanic tribe that originated in mainland Scandinavia.
So technically and geographically speaking,
Nevertheless, it is generally believed to have originated in Switzerland. But whatever!
Raclette was eaten very differently in the 1200s
We know that heating
Historians believe peasants, shepherds and cattlemen in the mountainous Alpine regions carried cheese with them as they moved their cattle through the mountain pastures, a practice called transhumance. Moving cattle could take days or weeks, so bringing food that was nutritious, filling, relatively cheap, and that wouldn’t spoil was crucial.
In the evening, after the sunset, the herders would set up a campfire and place their cheese on a rock or piece of wood near the fire, scraping the heated part of the cheese facing the fire onto a piece of bread with a knife as it melted.
Potatoes didn’t arrive in Europe until the 1600s, so potatoes as part of the
And electricity and electric
Raclette used to be called “roasted cheese” in Swiss German
The name for
Originally, this peasant alpine cheese and meal was known as Bratchäs, which means “roasted cheese” in Swiss German. For several hundred years, Bratchäs remained isolated in the alps and was not widely known outside of the Alpine region until the early 1900s.
It was during the 1900s that people began roasting cheese at home in front of the fireplace and referred to the meal as “râcla” in the French Swiss dialect.
Eventually, the French term “raclette” gained popularity in the early 1900s, thanks to a poet named Oscar Perollaz and his wife, who wrote a song called “La râclette” and performed it at the inauguration of the Valas exposition in 1909. The term probably existed prior to his poem, it’s just that his poem made it more mainstream.
The song was a direct reference to the way the cheese is eaten, by scraping melted cheese. Here’s the poem.
La râclette (poem)
Blonde râclette ( Blond
En gouttelettes (Droplets)
Sur nos assiettes (On our plates)
Solide atour ; (Solid around)
Mets vénérable, (Tasty dish)
Au nom aimable, (what a lovely name)
Toute la table (The whole table)
Attend son tour (Waits it’s turn)
“La Râclette ” song by Marguerite and Oscar Perrollaz
Wrapping up French
So, that’s it for French
While it may be similar to Swiss
This isn’t the first time the French have made something their own, either. They’ve done it with other foods, like the crescent moon-shaped Kipfel or Kipferl, which is a beloved breakfast staple in Austria.
The French took the crescent moon-shaped Kipfel and transformed it into the flaky, buttery croissant we all know and love today.
It just goes to show that even traditional dishes can be transformed and improved upon, resulting in unique culinary delights that are enjoyed by people all over the world.
You should read this: 44 Fascinating French Croissant Facts For Curious Foodies & Francophiles.