Haiba im Kleinwalsertal | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen

30 Jul. 2015 · Culinary | Culture | Summer Activities
Carolin Schratt

Hay Cuisine – Eat What You Mow!

A menu that is very similar to a cow’s diet is not something you see every day: hay sparkling wine, hay soup and grass-fed lamb cooked in hay. 

What kind of chef strikes upon the idea of sprinkling dried grass over a bowl of soup? And what about snuggling the lamb upon a bed of hay in the oven just as it would have done when it was alive – is this macabre or just a logical consequence?
The best way to find out exactly what hay cuisine in Kleinwalsertal is all about is to take a walk in the countryside. ‘Bend your knees slightly. Keep your back straight and lean forward slightly.’ This sounds like a fitness routine – goodness gracious, this is not far from the truth! The freshly sharpened scythe slices each and every stem of coltsfoot. To achieve this, it is necessary to repeatedly move the trunk of the body left and right in quarter circle motions. This is a steady motion which becomes increasingly more arduous the more impassable and the more steep the terrain becomes.

Heuen mit der Sense  | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen

To Mow Well is to Maintain Well

The meadows are only mown here twice a year. The flowers are supposed to bloom freely in the spring until the first Mahd (mow). The second mow then lies ahead in August. As it is currently still too early for haymaking, we tackle the large-leaved coltsfoot plant with a knife in the meantime. It is interesting to think that farmers only ever used the scythe for centuries, whereas now the grass grown in Kleinwalsertal is now mown by mechanical means wherever possible. This has given rise to what experts now dispassionately call cultivated landscape which is defined as cultivated pastureland as far as the eye can see. How different would the Walser mountains look, and in fact the entire Alpine region, if farmers over the centuries and farmers today had not put their scythes and machinery to work on this steep terrain?

Heuen & Rechen  | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen

From the Trough …

Farmers today are not just custodians of the countryside and fitness trainers, they are also a bit like nutritionists for cows and people. Grass from the meadows, which is very rich in fibre, and dried hay are on the menu for the cows. This is occasionally mixed with some dried concentrated feed. Most of the farmers avoid feeding their animals silage or cooked Brazilian soya.

Heusuppe im Kleinwalsertal | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen

... to the Plate

If you look at the animals standing next to the trough, you will see healthy hay-fed cows that produce healthy organic milk. Milk from hay-fed cows even helps to promote human health because it helps to eliminate food intolerances. Lactose intolerance is not an issue if you drink untreated and unprocessed raw milk. In addition, hard cheeses made from raw milk that have matured for three months no longer contain any lactose.

So, when you are enjoying a glass of fresh milk in the morning, when you are slicing some cheese for your sandwich and when you are enjoying the pleasure of tucking into a tender piece of grass-fed lamb, you might stop for a moment and think about the fact that all this goodness started with the Mahd (mow).
During your hiking adventures across the Kleinwalsertal gourmet region (Genuss Region), you may decide to have a go at scything yourself on a scything course with one of the organic farmers!

Gourmethost Walserstuba | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Photographer: Oliver Farys

This article might also interest you:

Warm-up plan for the Walser Gourmet Food Festival

On June 5, the Walser GenussTage begin. There it is necessary to prepare in time - with a trim-you plan in three parts!