I have officially been a Swiss resident for one whole year. Where did the time go? It feels like just yesterday I arrived to a snowy and cold winter Sunday in Zurich. Thinking about my past year abroad, I can best describe it as constant learning experience. Learning a new language, new ways of doing things, a new city, how to be a better traveler, the list goes on. There are obvious things you need to learn, but then there are the things I never could have imagined that I would have to (re)learn. Like throwing out trash and recycling correctly. Or not doing laundry on Sundays as to not disturb fellow tenants on their “day of rest”. Or weighing your produce at the grocery store before getting in line (ooof they get mad about this one!).
Between all this learning about where I’m living, I’m also learning about where I’m from. Putting distance between myself and my home country provides a bit of clarity. I can’t help but love certain things about Swiss culture, but miss certain things about American culture. Let’s take public transportation. I never knew that trains and buses could arrive on a schedule! Like the same schedule. Everyday. Without fail. It seems like something you can only dream of, but it’s a real thing. SF Muni, we are no longer friends (we never were, but now it’s official). On the other hand, let’s take customer service. In the states, it’s all about the customer and I love being a customer! I don’t care if that smile is fake and the “how are you?” is not meant for a real answer. At least it’s a smile and a nice greeting. Here I feel like I’m pulling teeth to get someone in a store to help me. And most of the time they tell me it’s not their job and I need to ask the guy over there. Then I go to the guy over there and he tells me to ask the girl upstairs. It’s a terrible goose chase, and the worst part is, I want to buy something and they won’t let me!
I’m also learning the European view of what is very “American”. In the grocery stores, it is blatantly obvious with tacky American flag packaging wrapped around chocolate chip cookies, blueberry muffins, donuts, peanut butter, and marshmallows. I knew that peanut butter was particular to the US, but I never thought about marshmallows. Not everyone grew up roasting marshmallows and making s’mores? The non-existent graham crackers and the red, white, and blue packaged “Rocky Mountain” marshmallows confirmed that S’mores are indeed American.
In honor of my one year Swiss anniversary, I made some American goodness. And I’m sure that every Swiss is going to want s’more.
Make your crust. (If you are without graham crackers like me, a great replacement is crushed McVitie’s Digestive cookies).
Make some brownies.
- 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (or digestive cookie crumbs)
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 bag of marshmallows
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. While the oven is preheating, place the butter in your 8x8 pan and stick the pan into the oven. Once the butter is melted, pull it out of the oven and pour on the graham cracker crumbs. Spread them evenly along the bottom of the pan. Place the pan back in the oven and bake the crust for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
- In a double boiler (or a big bowl placed over a pot of simmering water), melt the butter, sugar, salt, and cocoa powder together. Stir while it is melting. Once melted (yes, it will be quite grainy), set aside until the batter has cooled to a warm temperature. Stir in the vanilla. Add the eggs one a time, stirring vigorously to make sure they do not cook in the warm chocolate. Once the batter is well blended, stir in the flour until you can no longer see it. Pour the batter on top of the baked crust. Place the pan back in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick into the brownie and it will come out clean.
- Arrange the marshmallows evenly on the top of your baked brownies. Turn the oven to the broil setting. Place the pan directly under the broiler. Watch closely because the marshmallows can burn before you know it! Take the pan out as soon as your marshmallows turn golden brown.
- Let the brownies cool for at least ten minutes (thirty minutes is better) before digging in!