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Raclette - the meal of the mountain folk

RacletteWhilst the fondue has somewhat usurped the raclette as the iconic “meal of the mountains”, it is, in fact, the latter that is the historic repas of mountain folk - the fondue was reserved for the lowland softies.

Arguably, raclette was the first industrial cheese – a cheese made to serve a purpose; namely, to feed the itinerant shepherds as they roamed the mountains with their herds in the summer months. And there were many shepherds. Archive footage of La Plagne in the 1950’s & 60’s reveals half a dozen shepherds sat on stools with a bucket between their legs, hand milking their herd as the cows grazed the summer pastures.

For the shepherds evening meal, a simple wheel of cheese was cut in half and placed close to a modest fire - as the cheese softened and melted it was scraped over dried bread to provide an instant, edible and nutritious feast.

Raclette wheels are never brine washed, wrapped in vine leaves and stored in a marmot’s cave for 18 months. It’s simply a cheese made for immediate consumption.

Today, raclette is hugely popular and is served in a variety of ways.

The traditional way is for half or a quarter cheese to be mounted in front of an infrared grill and melted cheese scraped onto boiled potatoes. It is usually accompanied by a green salad, cornichons and cold cuts of mountain ham. This combination is an absolute feast.

The downside is that everyone close to the grill gets lightly toasted for two hours.

The more modern way is for slices of raclette to be placed in a small tray and slid under a table top grill to melt. That noise? Shepherd’s turning in their grave.

Most of the mountain restaurants have raclette on their menus, so on chalet staff night off, why not treat yourselves to a local feast?

Monsieur Mogul


Monsieur Mogul – Our man in La Plagne

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author

alone and not those of Ice and Fire Ski and Snowboard Holidays

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