CITIES OF THE WORLD: BERNE

Hello!Finally a little time to begin talking about our last trip! Let’s start our Swiss tour from Berne, a city that I never visited before. You surely know that Bern is capital of Switzerland, and it gives name to the Canton in which is located. The official language of Bern is German, but the main spoken language is the Alemannic Swiss German dialect called Bernese German. (but just in case, they speak fluently English, French, and someone also Italian!I was amused by the fact that, while talking with people, I was not sure every time about what language I should have used).

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The etymology of the name Bern is uncertain. According to the local legend, the founder of the city of Bern, vowed to name the city after the first animal he met on the hunt, and this turned out to be a bear. The bear was the heraldic animal of the seal and coat of arms of Bern from at least the 1220s.

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The city was originally built on a hilly peninsula surrounded by the river Aare, but outgrew natural boundaries by the 19th century. As a conseguence, a number of bridges have been built to allow the city to expand beyond the Aare. Bern is built on very uneven ground. There is an elevation difference of several metres between the inner city districts on the Aare (Matte, Marzili) and the higher ones (Kirchenfeld, Länggasse). That’s why it has such scenic sights.

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The structure of Bern’s city centre is largely medieval and has been recognised by UNESCO as a Cultural World Heritage site. Perhaps its most famous sight is the Zytglogge (Bernese German for “Time Bell”), an elaborate medieval clock tower with moving puppets.

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It also has an impressive 15th century Gothic cathedral, the Munster, and a 15th-century town hall. Thanks to six kilometres (4 miles) of arcades, the old town boasts one of the longest covered shopping promenades in Europe.

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Since the 16th century, the city has had a bear pit, the Bärengraben, at the far end of the Nydeggbrücke to house its heraldic animals. The currently three bears are now kept in an open-air enclosure nearby, and tourists can admire them, except when they’re in hibernation during winter time. The Federal Palace (Bundeshaus), built from 1857 to 1902, which houses the national parliament, government and part of the federal administration, can also be visited.

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Finally, if you’re interested in the character of Albert Einstein, he lived in a flat at the Kramgasse 49, the site of the Einsteinhaus, from 1903 to 1905; unluckily, this January the house was closed and we couldn’t visit it, but we visited an interesting exhibit about Einstein inside the “Historisches Museum”. It’s a bit expensive (18 CHF) but really complete, you’ll explore Switzerland through centuries visiting it, from Roman time to nowadays.

to be continued..

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THE FRIDAY NIGHT RECIPE: TORTA ZEBRATA

Hello! Do you have ever made a “zebra-striped cake”? I make it for this Fiesta Friday for the first time, and I like it really much: it’s a classic cake, cocoa flavoured, very friable. After all, it’s quite simple to make, but a double-coloured cake is always cool, right? Here my recipe:

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INGREDIENTS:

 3/4 Eggs (to divide in yolk and white)
– 250 gr Granulated Sugar
– 300 gr Flour 00
– 150 gr Butter
– 1 glass Milk  (100-120 ml)
– 30 gr Cocoa powder (3 spoon)
– 1 bag Baking powder for desserts
– the juice of 1/2 lemon
– a pinch of salt
Optional:
– Vanilla extract
– Potato starch (130 gr)

PREPARATION: 

Start the preparation with the butter (room-temperature) and the sugar: put the ingredients in a large bowl, (also the vanilla extract if you use it) and work them with the mixer. Then add the egg yolks (always room-temperature), one by one, and  keep mixing the ingredients. When the mixture will become smooth and creamy, add the flour 00, the baking powder, and the pinch of salt. If you’re using the potato starch, add 100 gr of it at this time. (all the ingredients previously sifted.)

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At this point, add also the milk to make the mixture more “fluid”, then take a ladle and test the consistency: if the dough seems still too compact, add a bit more of milk. Now, the last step of the preparation is to beat the egg whites until foamy. When ready, add the whites to the mixture, little by little, and every time mixing well from the bottom to the top. Finally divide the mixture in two equal parts (uso two small bowls): in one part, add the sifted cocoa powder and amalgamate well the ingredients; in the other bowl, add 30-40 gr potato starch and mix well.

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After the “division”, if one of the parts is more compact than the other, add some teaspoon of milk to reach a better density. Take a baking pan (24 cm diameter) and butter it, then cover it with wax paper. Then start pouring with a spoon the “light” mixture in the middle of the baking pan. On the “light” mixture, always in the center, add the “cocoa” mixture. Follow pouring the two mixtures alternately till you end the dough.

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When you’re done, put the baking pan in the preheated oven at 180-200 °C for 40 minutes. Let the cake cool down when ready, and before serving, dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar.

Buon Appetito!Cris

POSTCARDS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD: SWITZERLAND

Hello!Happy New Year!We’re just back from some days spent in the Bernese canton and I’m recollecting things to show you in the next posts. In the meanwhile, I made a gallery with some of my fave photos. Have you ever been in Switzerland? It would be nice to know also your first impressions about this country. Stay tuned for the update of the tale of our itinerary! Cris

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