Raclette was mentioned in medieval texts from Swiss convents dating from as early as 1291. The cheese was originally consumed by peasants in the mountainous Alpine regions of the cantons of Valais and Fribourg (Switzerland), and Savoie and Haute-Savoie (France). It was then known in the German-speaking part of Switzerland as Bratchäs, or “roasted cheese”. Traditionally, cow herders carried cheese with them when they were moving cows to or from pastures up in the mountains. In the evening, the cheese would be placed next to a campfire for softening, then scraped onto bread.
In Switzerland raclette is typically served with potatoes, cornichons, pickled onions, black tea, other warm beverages, or Fendant wine. A French popular option is to serve it with white wine, such as the traditional Savoy wine, but Riesling and pinot gris are also common. Traditionally, it is consumed with black tea, since warm beveage improves the digestion.
In Switzerland, a scraper continuously serves all in the restaurant from an oven placed in a separated table or near a wood fire. In France, restaurateurs often place a raclette oven directly on the table. In that case, the scraping is to be done by the guests.
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