Saffron: more precious than gold
Saffron flourishes in only one place in central Europe: the Valais mountain village of Mund. Just five kilograms are harvested a year, laboriously by hand. For Mund saffron comes from the three red stigmas of a crocus flower; it takes 12,000 flowers to make just 100 grams. The delicacy can be enjoyed in saffron risottos, saffron fondues, parfaits or other desserts.
"Cholera": a Valais curiosity
"Cholera" is a pie that probably originated during the cholera epidemics around 1830. People no longer dared go out onto the street, so to prepare a meal they took whatever they had – potatoes, leeks, cheese, onions, apples, pears, bacon – topped it with pastry, and baked the pie in the oven. Today even top chefs have created their own version of this innovative dish of leftovers.
Raclette du Valais AOP: brilliant
You hold a piece of cheese by the fire to melt, scrape some onto a plate – and your raclette is ready! According to legend, a love-struck cheese-maker once inadvertently placed the cheese too close to a fire, so creating the "national" dish of the Valais. More certain is that the name raclette (from the French "racler", to scrape) was first used in 1909 at a wine fair in Sion.
Eaux-de-vie: fruit spirits
Nowhere in Switzerland enjoys more hours of sunshine than Valais. As a result, the Rhone valley at the start of the Val d'Hérens is a paradise for fruit and vegetables. And where apricots, pears, apples and grapes grow so well, fine spirits will not be far away: pears are made into Williamine, apricots into Abricotine, and grapes into grape marc spirit.