The Swiss are a nation of cheese eaters, and have ways of eating cheese that involve special appliances – but are very easy and tasty once you have the equipment.
Raclette was traditionally a (large) half wheel of cheese placed with its open face near an open fire so it would start melting. The melty layer would be scraped off and eaten while you waited for more to melt. You can still have raclette that way at restaurants and mountain refuges, but you can also have it at home, with the handy-dandy raclette cooker shown above, and cheese that you buy in convenient bricks or slices.
You put a slice of cheese into the little tray, put it under the raclette grill, and wait for it to melt.
In the meantime, you heap your plate with boiled new potatoes and pickled vegetables. You must drink hot tea or cold white wine. To drink cold water with any melted cheese dish will cause the cheese to curdle in your stomach and make you sick. The Swiss firmly believe this, and who are we to buck tradition?
The little wooden spatula shown above will be used to scrape the cheese out of the tray.
^ Here the cheese is almost melty enough to eat.
And here we are! Paprika and fresh-ground pepper have been sprinkled on top. After this I stopped photographing and started eating!