Meiringen, Switzerland: The Birthplace of Meringue?
When people think of meringues in Switzerland, the district of Gruyère usually comes to mind, where this light-as-air dessert is traditionally served with double cream. However, the birthplace of meringue is often considered to be Meiringen, in the canton of Bern (even though multiple theories exist for its place of origin, one of which involves Napoleon).
The story goes that an Italian chef named Gasparini, who worked in Meiringen, borrowed the name of the town for his new creation made of leftover egg whites and sugar. Some sources indicate this took place during the 17th century, while others say it occurred around 1720.
Lacking sufficient evidence, I have chosen to believe the theory that Meiringen is the home of meringue — and also because it holds the record for the world’s longest meringue, an honor proudly bestowed upon the town in 1986. With this in mind, I recently traveled to central Switzerland to taste Swiss meringues in the place where they were supposedly first made.
Based on my research, here’s where I recommend you go for Swiss meringues in Meiringen: Frutal Versandbäckerei. It’s located on the main street in town, at Bahnhofstrasse 18. You’ll find a bakery counter filled with Frutal’s famous meringues and Tatzelwurms, a special éclair decorated to resemble a mythical creature from local folklore, and much more. Next to the bakery is a tea room, where you can sit and order meringues accompanied with fresh fruit and whipped cream or ice cream — or if you have a sweet tooth like me, both!
Just outside of the city center, you’ll find the factory for Frutal meringues, at Hausenstrasse 73. At this location, you can schedule a one-hour guided tour of the facility, which will likely include a chance to sample some meringues along the way. Frutal has other opportunities for meringue-baking workshops for both children and adults, particularly from July to October or with a special request.
This article first appeared on Cuisine Helvetica.
Heddi Nieuwsma is an American living in Western Switzerland who enjoys learning about Swiss food. She shares recipes and info about regional foods, as well as culinary events and travel on her blog Cuisine Helvetica.