When it comes to cheese varieties the French can claim 365 cheeses, Italy over 400, but the real champions seem to be the Swiss; according to some sources the little landlocked Alpine country has over 450 different varieties to offer. It might all be cheesy chest thumping (in all three cases) – after all the distinctions between some cheese sorts are feeble to say the least – but it gives an idea of the cheese-making tradition of these countries. One could ask why there is so little to choose from abroad. You can walk into a European metropolitan supermarket and you'll find tens of French and Italian cheeses (though almost always more of the former) but always the same three-four Swiss ones. Be it London, Berlin or Rome, you'll inevitably see Emmenthaler, Gruyere and maybe one or two between Appenzeller, Tete de Moine and Sbrinz on sale. Where are the other 445?
I suspected that, given Switzerland's size, the best stuff never really gets out of the 26 cantons. After all connecting a country with such a cheese-making tradition mainly with pretty tasteless supermarket Emmenthaler, or even worse its imitations. To test if my idea was right, what could have been better than a little cheese shopping directly on location, exactly what I did on my visit to Zurich a few month's ago. Thanks to my Swiss friend and guest Boris I had a destination, Dettling Kaese-spezialgeschaeft, and at least one cheese to look for, Freiburger Käse (aka Freyburger Vacherin).