What is the difference between hamburger and Swiss?

Retracing the origins linked to food, the traditions and customs of peoples over time is always a compelling operation. Unexpected reconstructions and curious twists often emerge. This is also the case with the story that explains the difference between hamburger and swissthe well-known American sandwich and the lesser known name by which the Italians used to call it around the end of the 1950s.

The term is now obsolete and no one in Italy today would call a meat sandwich “Switzerland”. In the years of Sweet lifehowever, the “Swiss” sandwich was very popular with tourists and created a probable linguistic misunderstanding which still makes us smile today.

Beef burgers, a 50s revolution

At the end of the American Civil War, the economy in the defeated South had been practically destroyed. The men had been fighting for years and the ranches were overwhelmingly crowded by best cattle. But the market in that part of the world was still too small to accommodate one like this great offer of meats. The cattle were then shipped north, a Chicagowhich suddenly became a world center of reference for the slaughtering and distribution of beef in the USA.

This is how Americans start eating beef and fall in love with it. The real burgershowever, only arrived in the 1950s, with the post-war economic recoverythe barbecue culture and the fast food drift that gradually introduced the American hamburger to the whole world.

At the origins of the hamburger in Italy

In Italy the primo McDonald’s opens in Bolzano on 15 October of 1985. The following year it was the turn of Rome and so on up to the incredible increase that we all know. The meeting between burgers and Bel Paesehowever, unsuspectingly it had already happened many years earlier, when according to some the American hamburger was called Swiss Steak or swiss, translated into Italian.

The difference between hamburger and Swiss

As if to say, the difference between hamburger and Italian Swiss is not a difference. It’s not even a comparison, but a probable linguistic misunderstanding remained in the translation.

The swiss it is a technique for treating the tissues of the meat, a onomatopoeic word which simulates the sound of squeezing and leveling. The Swiss Steak, in fact, is a dish in which the meat is pressed and minced.

Now, at the turn of the 50s and 60s i American tourists they were already crowding the Italian cities and often in restaurants or street vendors they asked for meat hamburgers. The Italians knew nothing about this dish and probably to better explain the request, the tourists often spoke of the Swiss, triggering some misunderstanding.

For this reason, in those years in Italy i first burgers they were called Swissfrom sound translation swissmistakenly associated with the Swiss state, in English Swiss.

Today the misunderstanding is overcome and the word obsolete, but still traceable. On Wikipedia under the entry Hamburger it is read:

“In Italian also called Swiss or medallion, literally Hamburg. It is a meatball of minced and pressed meat, usually beef, etc.”

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