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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

PigsThey’re as much a part of the skiing holiday as tartiflette, chalet staff night off and first lifts on the last day.

But what’s your favourite?

Here are mine.

Uno. Devised by an Ohio barber, is there a family in Europe who has not played Uno? Memories of endless games played in tents whilst holidaying in France, looking out at the pouring rain are a memory. A family member brought Uno when the family joined me last month. What could be nicer, I thought, than a simple game of Uno after supper? Wrong. So, so wrong. The BBC sent Katie Adie to report the resulting conflict and the UN, Ban Kee Moon to negotiate the settlement. The cause? Could you lay a pick up four on top of a pick up two? The rules (who reads those?) say you can’t, family custom and practice say you can.

Another crackling, sorry cracking, game is Pass the Pigs. Have ever two little bits of plastic brought so much pleasure to a group? (OK I forgot about the credit card) It’s also a gag fest! “What’s that I smell? Bacon? No victory!” But what’s your strategy? Do you accumulate points by passing when you have 30? Or go for broke each time? The accumulators often take the victory, but none are remembered. The dashers are the heroes, who people talked about excitedly at coffee the next day and all remember where they were sat “back in the day” when Uncle Dave scored 101 rolling the pigs.

Jenga must be on the list. Pulling bits of wood out of a stacked pile all sounds a bit dull. But nothing builds nervous tension like Jenga. And it’s a game where age has no advantage. Experience gives certainty but limits ambition. Youth eschews caution, but can recklessness carry the day? The blocks never lie and ain’t that the truth.

In a nod to modernity “Heads Up” makes the list. It’s a simple smart ‘phone app for pennies. Fire it up, select the category and place the screen on your forehead. Your neighbour says what they see. Tilt up for pass and down for a correct answer. After a minute you know your score. “It’s a bird. London is full of them. You feed them in Trafalgar Square” said my daughter. “Penguins” said my sister. I just love them both a little bit more after that. Priceless.

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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