Bern - Tibits

 

It was rush hour when I arrived in Bern. As I stepped off the train and headed towards the station exit, the fatigue from the past 10 days on the road seemed to have caught up with me at once. My arthritic joints felt especially tender at this moment as I plodded along, heavy luggage in tow.

When I stopped in the station lobby to get my bearings, I felt overwhelmed by the hustle and jostle around me. Everyone seemed to know exactly where he or she was going, and I was lost. I could almost picture myself from way above, the only one standing still in the middle of a busy train station where everyone else whirled about in a blur.

Somehow I worked my way through the crowd and made it out of the station. Now, which way to the hotel? I asked myself.

From the corner of my eye I spotted crates of fruits and a group of men and women handing out pamphlets to passers-by. I headed towards them, thinking they must be fruit vendors of some sort. Replenishing my vitamins would do me some good, I figured. As I approached the crates, I noticed that they contained only apples and pears.

“Grüezi,” a kind-looking man greeted me and handed me a pamphlet as well as a tape measure. As I looked at the pamphlet, I realized that these were not fruit vendors but volunteers from the Schweizerische Herzstiftung or the Swiss Heart Foundation. They were giving away apples and pears to raise awareness on the correlation between body shapes and risks for cardiovascular disease.

“Apfel oder Birne?” the man asked me.

“Birne, bitte.”

He rummaged through the crate of pears in front of him and handed me the nicest one.

“Merci!” I said, attempting a Bernese pronouncation that stresses the first syllable of this French word.

In a world under the spreading influence of the golden arch, obesity is rapidly turning into an epidemic. Maintaining an optimal waistline has become part of the daily juggling act for many who struggle to achieve a balance in life. While it is common knowledge that proper nutrition is key to good health, how many people can afford the time to slave away daily in the kitchen? Eating out has in fact become a necessity rather than a luxury for those constantly on the go.

Unfortunately, wholesome slow food is not widely available and often comes at a premium. And wholesome fast food? Sounds like an oxymoron. Yet that is exactly what one finds at Tibits, a Swiss chain restaurant offering gourmet international vegetarian cuisine at fast food speed and affordable prices.

I was very much looking forward to sampling Tibits Bern, located on Bahnhofplatz, opposite the Heiliggeist Church. As I walked into the restaurant, I immediately took a liking to the vibrant yet relaxed atmosphere. The restaurant features a buffet with an assortment of cold and hot vegetarian dishes. One simply picks whatever one fancies, and pays for the food by the weight. It is not necessary to make a reservation or to queue at the buffet.

Curious about the more than 35 selections on display, I decided to have a bite of everything that looked interesting. I sampled South Asian flavors such as curried chickpeas and carrots, curried rice with pineapple and raisins, and Indian dahl. To get my daily recommended servings of vegetables, I grazed on braised fennel, eggplant salad, coleslaw, and cucumber dill salad. My favorites turned out to be the Spätzli baked with cheese and apple, and a gingery cold dish consisting of Romanesco, tofu and apples. Everything was tasty and I felt reassured knowing that Tibits uses fresh and organic ingredients whenever possible.

I suppose all the tidbits I consumed really added up, I had to save desserts for my next visit to Tibits. After all, I still had that pear in my bag. Fortunately, the saying “You are what you eat” is not to be taken literally, or I would hesitate to eat my nice little pear for fear of resembling one...