The Schnapps Lecture
Working for a Swiss outdoor brand is interesting in many, many ways. Of course, Switzerland is beautiful, the mountains are legendary, the trains are on time, the army has cool watches, and the chocolate is sweet. But I think it's the cultural things that make it so fun to spend time with our Swiss friends. And one particular meme that we Americans find quite special is The Schnapps Lecture. Here's how it usually plays out pretty much every trip:
After a day in the mountains, taking in the breathtaking panoramas of the Alps, we find ourselves on the receiving end of a major dose of Swiss hospitality. We stumble across a hummocky field, the sun warm on our faces, and we're feeling great after having stood on a perfectly situated summit. We turn a corner and there it is, the quintessential Swiss mountain hut, and stepping toward us is our local friend (who grew up here) handing us a beer each. These are delivered with a hearty laugh and the most friendly smile imaginable. We sit in the sun and sip our beer, our friend's mountain rescue dogs playing on the slope below. The view is stunning and everyone seems to be grinning and nodding their heads slowly, as if it's impossible not to agree with this place and this moment.
After a time there comes a voice from inside the hut saying that lunch is ready. Lunch? Really? We file in the door and there is a long table set in a cozy hut with hearts carved in the window shutters. Hearts. Nothing else would do. To make a long story short, we spend the next hour in bliss. Our friend's 16 year old son is an apprentice to a local cheese maker. He introduces us to the cheeses he will be serving along with local sausage, bread, butter, wine, beer, soup ,cookies, and...and...
And then we're stuffed.
And that's when it happens. One of our Swiss colleagues begins the lecture. "You've had too much cheese? Well, you know, you must have some schnapps to dissolve it in your stomach." We give a sideways glance and a raised eyebrow. Yeah, right. Wink, wink..."good for digestion." But it's always the same poker face looking back. Dead serious, not the slightest grin. This is not a joke, friend. This is how it works. If you eat cheese, especially if you eat fondue, you better knock back a schnapps or two or things are going to go badly for you. So, we respond in the only way that seems appropriate, we give in to numb lips and tongues in the pursuit of good digestion.