I’ve been visiting my grandmother in Unterägeri, almost an hour outside Zurich, for as long as I can remember. Visits to the quiet village inevitably include blissfully uneventful weekends spent playing rummy on the terrace punctuated by the thrill of ritual trips to the local supermarket.
To me, getting under a city’s skin begins and ends with a grocery store. I’ve wrestled throngs of tourists at Venice’s famous Rialto Bridge to reach a Coop and, while Tokyo may have a constellation of Michelin stars, my not-to-be missed culinary experience was the refrigerated onigiri at 7-Eleven. Still, there is no supermarket closer to perfection, and no travel routine more enriching than shopping at the Migros in my grandmother’s village.
Migros was founded in 1925 as a series of mobile supermarkets operating out of Ford Model Ts in and around Zurich. Today, it’s Switzerland’s largest retailer, with more than 700 fixed locations.
I walk the familiar route along the lake to the local outpost and roam the aisles, intoxicated by Swissness. Here, package designs are pleasingly minimalist, the dairy products are adorned with dirndl-wearing alpine belles and the chocolate assortment is staggering.