Switzerland Part Four--Not til The Cows Come Home

We arrived in Appenzell to the clanging of bells—the cows were coming down from the mountain. This spectacular and strangely stirring event only happens once a year, the first Tuesday of October and all the farmers of the region join in this procession. Children, dressed in traditional costumes, join the procession carrying switches to keep the cows in line. At what I thought was the end of the procession along came the bull. Then came the goats and then still more cows. There was a wonderful milky smell and occasionally moos! A small black and white dog leapt among the cows biting at their heels to help keep them in line. Children are allowed to smoke cigars on this one day of the year which is said to cure them forever of the desire to smoke! After the procession we went for a guided tour around the lovely town.

I was delighted to see the large outdoor version of my uncle Nat’s Movado Museum Watch. We were treated to an outdoor solo Swiss horn concert. The original decorations on this ancient pharmacy are depictions of the medicinal herbs. This statue in the town square represents the way in which to this day the town vote is taken (with the raising of hands). We followed the haunting sound of several costumed men sitting in a restaurant singing “ruggusala” which was described to us as yodeling without words or music. Then on to Appenzell cheese factory for lunch. The panorama of rolling bright green hills could not have been more picturesque. We were told it stays this green all year long and it was not surprising that this landscape would produce the famous Appenzeller cheese, made from the milk of grass or hay fed cows with some grain added to the feed to make it richer. The cheese is treated with brine and a secret recipe of 40 plus herbs and white wine. The different types of cheese are: 1) Classic—aged 3 months (my preference), 2) surchoix, aged 4 months, 3) extra aged 6-7 months (too strong to my taste) 4) biologic, aged 3 months, 5) one quarter the fat aged 3 months and 6) one quarter the fat--very ripe--6-8 months. 70 farms in the region produce 19,000 litres of milk plus organic milk. Appenzeller cheese will have AOC designation probably within this decade. The following day was listed on our itinerary as “cow trekking,” which none of us could define so it piqued our curiosity even though we weren't sure we wanted to do it! It turned out to be part of our visit to an organic farm and the highlight of the entire trip. Next and final Swiss trip posting…..(from this trip!)