You expect and are rarely disappointed by the fine food available in European resort restaurants and hotels. However, what you may not expect is the superb quality of the food at mountain cafes, sometimes in remodeled ancient shepherd huts high above the valley. The luncheon meals and snacks we’ve enjoyed are a shocking reminder to Americans that there’s more to lunch than pizza, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and chicken salad. We’ve found ourselves overindulging in a poulet au vin rouge, or lentils Cote d’Azur, or a ragout of pork hocks, or bratwurst smothered in a hearty sauerkraut. Always the food must be accompanied by a stein of beer, or a bottle of wine, or a glass of schnapps.

The idea that skiers hit the slopes when the lift opens and, except for a quickie lunch, hurtle down the mountains all day is not quite the reality over there. Casual is the key. We’ve found ourselves joining those who enjoy a long lunch, then sitting outside for an hour or two, relaxed and suntanned faces staring blindly into the sun. Many Americans ski through midday lunch period because Europeans tend to be punctual about stowing their skis when it’s time for a gourmet snack and the slopes are almost empty; the Americans don’t then indulge in food until after about 1 P. M. Europeans often stop for an afternoon
drink, sometimes in a mountain restaurant or a ski-in, ski-out bar, then don’t indulge again until at least after their final run, when they relax with an aperitif before heading to their hotel, chalet, or condo. All part of the pleasure of skiing the Alps.

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