Michèle Roten – Bschüssig Spaghetti, Aromat, Maggi (All together please)




Like most children, I had a strong aversion to certain foods. Top of my “I’ll-die-if-I-have-to-eat-that” list (I actually wrote one) were potatoes in any form, all other vegetables, cheese, and meat of all sorts. Except hot dogs. And fish. And most kinds of fruit. Rice was a difficult issue, too. As were mushrooms. To make a long story short: All I ate was pasta.

And – if with any sauce at all – only with tomato sauce from the jar. Which, disappointingly, tastes totally different today. Maybe because they’ve had to stop putting in offal like cow’s eyes and other such delicacies. All this can’t have been easy on my Mom, who is a fantastic cook. With stoic composure, she would serve me pasta. After all, the child had to eat something.

So that’s what I ate: Pasta. Sophia Loren is credited with saying: “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti,” probably referring to her curves. I could easily say the same, except – aside from being decidedly non-curvy – I’d be saying: “Thanks to spaghetti, I’m still alive!” To be precise: Spaghetti from the Swiss brand “Bschüssig.” And all the other kinds of pasta manufactured by “Bschüssig.”

This tiny bit of information has just clued in the perceptive Swiss reader to the fact that I grew up in the countryside, as the “Bschüssig” brand is only available in rural mini-marts like Landi and Volg and other convenience stores. The even more perceptive reader will have gleaned some additional information: That I grew up in a traditional Swiss family. Because “Bschüssig” pasta is egg-based pasta, and that is so wrong from an affected urban-nonconformist-dogmatic point of view. Which I immediately adopted as soon as I left home. Emancipating myself from my parents’ influence largely took place on a culinary plane, and I dived into the first Sushi eatery I could find: Back home, the idea of eating raw fish with plain rice would have filled everybody with disgust and alarm. In my new life, I had to learn about almost everything that comes from the sea that isn’t breaded and rectangular-shaped. I felt liberated and a free spirit as I followed every new trend…until the moment I realized that vinegar essences/rocket salad/prawns/goat cheese/agretti had become the new mainstream. I also became a champion of hard durum pasta, and the two things I’ve strictly refused to let into my kitchen for at least 15 years are the classic Swiss condiments Maggi and Aromat.

Maggi and Aromat, brands that embody the sacred twins of rural barbarism. Pinnacles of bad taste to shake and drizzle on any dish. A surrogate for cooking talent: Glutamate shots to pep up uninspired, tasteless dishes. Never ever! Salt, pepper, some good olive oil, a dash of lemon juice, would do for me (of course, with time, plain salt wasn’t good enough anymore, either; only Fleur de sel would do). Until one day at a friend’s house I tasted the perfect salad dressing. A salad dressing that was so out-of-this-world it made my life complete. I immediately asked for the recipe and would like to share it with you here, because nobody should have to live another day without this magical dressing. This is how it’s made: Mustard, Kressi vinegar and olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped flat parsley, and: MAGGI. I’ll be jiggered.

And so Maggi, a liquid condiment, re-entered my life. Old childhood memories began to resurface: Bread with Maggi. Pasta with Maggi. And together with Maggi, came Aromat, the classic Swiss seasoning. Pasta with butter and Aromat. Raw egg yolk with Aromat and bread. Mom. Dad. Falling off my bicycle. Being comforted after falling off. Mom playing the guitar. The smell of the cornfield out back. The sad toy donkey. Denise. Nadja. Enrica. Splashing about in the Egelsee lake. Chalk on the sidewalks. The secret tree. The rabbit skull in the copse. Dad’s scent: Old Spice, cigarettes, and Stimorol chewing gum. How Jerry slobbered as he grew older. Badminton in the garden. The sound of lawn mowers on Saturday morning.

Never, ever will I allow some misdirected sense of style to banish Maggi or Aromat from my life again.

Comments (2)

Sabine Zeilinger | 11.09.2015

Liest sich wie meine eigene Geschichte:-) Heute gibts auch bei uns wieder Maggi und Aromat - und eine kleine Tochter, die nur Spaghetti isst.

Peter Schidegger | 10.09.2015

Himmlisch, Frau Roten. Chapeau und allerlei ähnliches dazu.


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