Tuesday, March 27, 2018

No Place Like Gnome

Gnomes in Switzerland are extremely popular. The average Swiss person likes to display gnomes in their gardens and all around their property. We have seen at least one gnome display in pretty much every neighborhood we've visited - and we've visited a lot as we look for our permanent housing.
Some are spread throughout the yard:

Some are concentrated in one area of the yard:
Yes, there are mini palm trees in Switzerland...with gnomes, of course.

Some stand (sit) alone:
Big gnome by a big home.

And some are a whole gnome village:
Hardcore intricate mini gnome scene.

There is even a shout out to Snow White and her crew around the corner from our house:

Are the 7 dwarfs the same as gnomes?

Generally most gnomes in Swiss gardens are sweet little fellas:

Until you look closely and see a different side to their personality:
This gnome is giving a middle finger salute!

An interesting side note: Gnomes have had a negative connotation when they have been associated with the perception of Swiss banking practices of the past. According to Wikipedia: "Gnomes of Zürich is a slang term for Swiss bankers. Swiss bankers are popularly associated with extremely secretive policies, while gnomes in fairy tales live underground, in secret, counting their riches. Zürich is the commercial centre of Switzerland." 

Today's poem is micro, just like gnomes:
to gnome me
is to love me
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

PS - Wee Words will be on holiday until Tuesday 10 April. Prost!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Love Triangle

What do you get when you combine two iconic aspects of Switzerland: mountains and chocolate? Toblerone!

"Toblerone is a success story unique to Switzerland. In 1867, Jean Tobler opened a confectionary in Bern. Over the years, demand for his homemade chocolates grew to such an extent that he opened a chocolate factory in 1899. In 1908, the Tobler family created the honey and almond bar that was destined to become an enduring symbol of Switzerland throughout the world. A year later, Toblerone became the first patented milk chocolate. It was acquired by Kraft Foods - now Mondelēz International - in 1990." ~SwissInfo.ch

The name Toblerone is the combination of the chocolatier's family name, "Tobler", with the Italian word for nougat, "torrone". And the unique triangular shape is the stuff of legends.

Some think it is a nod to the one of the most recognizable mountains in Switzerland, the Matterhorn.

On the official Toblerone website the theory that the triangular shape had far sexier origins is floated, "a red and cream-frilled line of dancers at the Folies Bergères in Paris, forming a shapely pyramid at the end of a show."

In fact, the shape of this chocolate is said to be the inspiration for anti tank defenses, or toblerones, built by the Swiss to slow any possible invasion by the Nazis during the Second World War.

While the triangular shape has remained the same, the logo of Toblerone has changed over time. The first logo featured an eagle. Then in the 1920's, they switched to a Bernese bear as Bern was known as "City of Bears". In the 1930's the eagle reappeared until 2000 when they changed the logo to reflect the Matterhorn mountain, but with a nod to their home city.

Do you see a shape on the left side of the mountain? Yep, the Bernese bear is in profile 'hiding' on the mountain.

An interesting, and funny, side note: In 2016 Mondelēz International introduced a lighter, cheaper version of Toblerone in the UK, but it did not go over well. In fact, some blamed the cost-cutting measure on Brexit as is illustrated by this social media meme:

The bottom picture is actually what they did to cut production costs.

And being good expats who are eager to assimilate into the local culture as much as possible, we've taken to doing what the Swiss do and eat chocolate! According to this Forbes graph we are fitting in with Swiss societal norms:
Today's concrete or shape poem pays homage to Toblerone and our Swiss brethren:

triangle filled
with bits of honey
and almond melts on my
tongue. I am thankful for my
Swiss kindred spirits - a society
that loves chocolate as much as I do.
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.