Collection abc – V is for Vanilla, Vision and Victorinox

Here is the “V” installment of my abc collection. I choose three words and write something regarding them trying to relate them to Switzerland or the Swiss or my life in Switzerland. This week’s words start with “v”. “V” is for vanilla, vision and Victroinox.

is for vanilla.

My life is just great now. Normal. Vanilla.
~ Jason Bateman

One of the things I learned to cook in Switzerland was “apple pie”. As I’ve mentioned before, the Swiss apple pie is different than the American. The Swiss apple pie is more or less sliced apples on dough. Then a mixture of milk, egg and vanilla is poured over and baked. I wasn’t aware that there was more than one kind of vanilla. I always used vanilla extract, in Switzerland it’s vanilla sugar. For some reason the Swiss seldom use vanilla extract. I even had difficulty finding that here. I was looking for the big bottles like you can buy in the States. What I ended up buying was small vials of vanilla aroma. Vanilla aroma is not vanilla extract but my recipes worked with it.

What is vanilla sugar, is there a difference between that and extract? Know that vanilla sugar has no alcohol in it, vanilla extract does. Who knows, that might be important to someone. In that sense, extract is usually more expensive than the sugar. Both can and sometimes do use synthetic components to lessen the costs.

I have since found out that normally you can substitute the exact amount of sugar for extract and vice-versa. Just beware that that won’t work for every recipe. Custards, for example can get grainy if sugar is used, so don’t.

So, does vanilla equal boring and normal? I don’t think so. Vanilla comes in many different forms and is widely used to enhance whatever it is put into. It smells great and has a delicate, seldom overbearing taste. I use it in many of my favorite dishes.

My life is great, too. Exciting and interesting. Vanilla. Just saying.

is for vision

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.
~ Helen Keller

When I read that quote I immediately thought of Swatch and their founding father, Nicolas Hayek. He, indeed had vision.

Hayek was a businessman with his own management consulting company he had no ties to the watch industry. His business was managing turnarounds for struggling companies. In the early 1980’s he was asked to oversee two Swiss watch companies that were in deep financial trouble. This was just the tip of the iceberg because In fact, the entire Swiss watch industry was floundering. Since he was a visionary, he saw the vast opportunities that these companies had. He knew he could make changes for the better. His vision was to bring the Swiss back into the watch-race and to take the lead. To implement these changes he created a new holding from the two companies which later became Swatch. He also became the ceo and implemented a successful turnaround.

He saw where the problems were and what could be done to solve them. How did he do this? Foremost he streamlined the number of parts in a wristwatch. He also had parts designed to be interchangeable and improved the production. He was a visionary but also knew a great product alone wouldn’t guarantee success. All the aspects of production and marketing were important.

I owned a Swatch, I thought it was great. Really, if you live in Switzerland then you might as well invest in Swiss visions.

is for Victorinox

The Swiss must have been pretty confident in their chances of victory if they included a corkscrew in their army knife.

Well, yes, I guess the Swiss are a pretty confident group of people. After all, the manufacturer of the knife has the word “victory” as part of their name. Okay, not really. Actually, the name originates from the combination of the founder’s mother’s name, Victoria and the French term for stainless steel, “acier inoxydable” (inox).

Victorinox makes a variety of pocket knives among other products. The knife can have more of less functions. The most functions I found in one knife was 102. It weighs in at 351 g and costs a little more than 4 SF (Swiss Francs) per function. My guess would be in case of an emergency you might have the right tool with you. Unfortunately you probably wouldn’t be able to find it quickly enough. Another knife that has 16 functions weighs in at 45 g and costs about SF 2.30 per function. I guess which knife you buy depends on what you want. Still, they have so many different knives you are sure to find that special one. Pick the function you need be it a pen, nail clipper, cork screw, a gold bar or almost anything.

Swiss Army Knife

To put a couple of things straight about the Swiss army knife. Yes, everyone in the army is issued an army knife. Victorinox has been the sole supplier of the mulit-purpose Swiss army knife since 2005. Before that time Victorinox had competition from another company. My husband told me the knife he got when he was in the army had no corkscrew. He said that when they got their knives one person immediately checked which functions were included. He then said “the most important part is missing; the corkscrew!”

By Francis Flinch – Own work

I don’t know if the corkscrew is included in the version of the knife they get these days, this is what the Swiss Army knife looked like in 2008. Still, no corkscrew but there is a bottle opener combined with what looks like a smaller slot screwdriver. So the victory drink would have to be something akin a bottle of beer. Does it really matter, victory is victory.


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