What’s the deal with raclette? If you’ve heard the word before, but you’ve never had the chance to find out more about the cheese itself or about the Swiss tradition, in general, this article will shed some light on those aspects and more.

The tradition

Many Switzerland rural residents, as well as Swiss herdsmen, used to place a block of semi-hard cheese in front of a fire or a cooking heart and then wait for the cheese to melt. As it slowly did so, they scraped off the melted parts and added it to their main dish. You can eat virtually anything with melted cheese, as most people know that already, but this rule also applies in the case of this special cheese.

The neatest thing about the practice is that only some part of the block would melt, which meant that the diners would have to wait for a bit to enjoy their meals, instead of gobbling it down in a hurry. The practice was mostly used for bonding and other social purposes as it involves a relaxed dining atmosphere.

How has eating raclette changed?

There are two ways of enjoying a meal of raclette nowadays. You can get a unique raclette melter and scrape the melted parts much like the herdsmen we were mentioning earlier on used to do. On the other hand, you can get a raclette machine. This nifty gadget is, in fact, a grill that has been fitted with several components which allow the diners to cook their own food. The plate on the top can be made of stone or Teflon that was covered with a non-stick coating.

Under the main grill component, you’ll find several mini trays that are used to melt individual cheese slices. What makes this type of appliance so appealing? Well, in a nutshell, it involves the entire family or friends that have gathered around the table. The grill on the top can be used for preparing anything from meat to veggies, and one can also use pre-boiled potatoes.

Once the cheese has melted, it can be added to the dishes and the mini-trays can be filled time and again. On the one hand, this dining practice makes it easier for the cook to deal with the whole dinner preparation, because he or she doesn’t have to run from the kitchen to the living room all of the time, to bring all sorts of extra dishes.

Everything is conveniently placed at hand, and best of all, everyone can choose his or her favorite meal and indulge in it at a comfortable pace. Because the entire raclette tradition is based on a relaxed atmosphere, the diners will finally have the chance to have a nice talk, discuss the weather, or any other recent events they might be interested in.

On top of that, raclette grills usually come with variable heating, which means that the elements can be heated separately. The top-tier can be used for cooking veggies and meat instead of just warming them up, but it needs to be capable of producing enough heat for that.