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La Raclette: A Cheesy French Winter Dish

Cheese, Potatoes, & Charcuterie: The Recipe for Surviving the Cold

With the onset of winter comes the arrival of Raclette season. This gooey gourmandise is perhaps the best part of cold weather, as French friends and family gather around the table to indulge in masses of melted cheese.

If you’ve never tasted raclette, your life is about to change drastically, and for the better – that is if you’re a cheese lover. Because yes, you’ve guessed it, this article is all about cheese.

Raclette is a semi-soft cheese that gets its name from the French verb racler (meaning to scrape), and that’s exactly the method used to serve this cheese. Originating in the Swiss Alps, this French and Swiss culinary tradition was adopted by peasants in the mountainous regions of Valais and Savoie. Cow herders would place a wheel of cheese next to the fire to soften it and then scrape the melted fromage onto their bread.

Of course, this became such a tempting delicacy that it spread to the rest of France.

Usually, the wheel or block of cheese is cut in half and placed by the fire until it melts, at which point it’s served to your table and everyone grabs the knife to scrape the cheese onto his or her plate. Grilled potatoes, pickles (not the big pickles, but the small, sour French ones), and charcuterie traditionally accompany a raclette, along with pieces of bread, bien sûr.

What to drink with raclette?

In Switzerland, they accompany the raclette with hot tea. In France, we drink it with Savoy wine or Riesling. You can mix it up as you like and drink it with red wine too, but just a word of caution: don’t drink it with ice water! The cheese will harden in your stomach and cause indigestion. If you’re looking for a restaurant to try raclette while in Paris, here are a few recommendations.


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