From the Grimsel Pass: Raclette

Grimsel Pass in Switzerland

In Illustrations of the Passes of the Alps: By Which Italy Communicates with France, Switzerland, and Germany, Volume One (1829), author William Brockedon writes that “the Pass of Grimsel is much frequented in the height of summer: the fine scenery of the Oberhasli and the upper valley of the Aar, and the direct communication of these by the Grimsel with the Haut-Valais and the glaciers of the Rhone, offer inducements to the traveler to make this passage of the Alps, and will repay the fatigue of the excursion.” Indeed, the stark beauty of Switzerland’s Grimsel Pass, with its slate-gray mountains and black lakes, does recompense the traveler weary from days of trudging up bluff, rugged Alpine paths.

Perhaps, on the way back down, the traveler would stop at one of the few inns nestled in the mountain dales. There he (or she) would likely see raclette on the menu. A recipe from a 1966 edition of Boys’ Life, the official magazine of the Boy Scouts of America, presents the following recipe for raclette and bread as shared by a troop of scouts visiting the Swiss Alps. Serve this dish with pickles and boiled potatoes.


“This is a very special cheese called raclette,” explained the boy kneeling at fireside. “It is made in large, round spheres, but I have only half of one here. The reason for cutting it in half is so the fire can warm the exposed edges and soften them. When it is melted just right I will scrape the soft cheese onto your bread. It must be eaten right away if you want to enjoy its full flavor.”

If you are not by a camp fire, heat a chunk of raclette under a broiler.


Baumgarthuber, Christine. Fermented Foods: The History and Science of a Microbiological Wonder. Reaktion Books, 2021.

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