How it all began

Raclette originates in Wallis, Switzerland, and is traditionally thought to be more than 400 years old. The first written records date back to the early 19th century. In 1812, in his description of the Simplon district Dr. H. Schiner mentions a tradition in the Val d'Anniviers, in which sumptuous feasts begin and close with roasted cheese (“fromage rôti”).

 

It's said that...

Other authors talk of evenings in the Val d'Anniviers before the animals are brought down from the Alps: “some shepherds sit ... around a fire and keep watch over a quarter cheese round which they have placed over the heat. As soon as the cheese begins to melt, one of them takes... a knife, scrapes a slice of molten cheese from the round and spreads it onto a piece of bread.” (V. Tissot, 1888).

 

The baptism of raclette

It wasn't until the beginning of the 20th century that ‘roasted cheese’ was given a wider audience. As a part of a cantonal exhibition in 1909, the best regional wines were offered around, accompanied by "roasted cheese". For this purpose, it was christened with the name ‘raclette’. This was a play on the French word "racler", meaning "to scrape", describing the method of preparation still used today in Valais and in gastronomy to describe the typical way of preparing cheese.