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Delicious discoveries
Bernese lobby sausage
14
May
2014
Susanne Wenger

“The most intense conversation takes place over a meal,” says Lorenz Furrer, speaking from experience. Parliamentarians are frequent guests at his club in the government district in Bern.

Just a moment ago he was up in his office talking on the phone: Lawrence Furrer, just shy of 47, co-owner of Furrer.Hugi & Partner, a political lobbying agency.

Now he steps into the Clé de Berne, a private club two floors down in the same building. He takes off his tie and dons some loose-fitting kitchen attire. At the private club, which Furrer founded in 2012 as a place to network and relax, he will now be playing the role of sausage maker in the kitchen. It is almost evening and a number of politicians will be coming by to cook and eat together. Celebrity chef Robert Speth, resident of the Bernese Highlands and recipient of 18 Gault Millau points, will be assisting behind the stove. The encounter will be recorded in a parliamentary cookbook that will add some spice to the national elections in 2015.

The meat mixture is ready. Lorenz Furrer feeds it into the red sausage machine, a one-hundred-year-old Husqvarna. He slips a sheep casing over the tube and begins turning the crank. Furrer is making a “Bernese lobby sausage” based on his own recipe, which calls for organic beef and pork from regional farmers and a stock of white wine, onions, garlic and black chanterelles. The spice mix used to season the meat was created by Robert Speth. Soon a sausage comes coiling out onto the table. While stuffing the machine, the sausage maker takes pains to avoid air bubbles, since they diminish the quality of the final product. A good sausage is like good communication, says Furrer: “It’s the content that counts, not the wrapping.”

 

The Clé de Berne has 140 members from the worlds of government, business and the arts. Fine wine and excellent food made from high-quality ingredients play an important role at these get-togethers. Furrer cites Hamburg celebrity chef Anna Sgroi, who once said that the best discussions take place over a good meal. The PR professional sees it the same way: “Exchanging ideas while eating is the most intense and open form of communication. Conversations held during a well-coordinated meal usually turn out well.” But isn’t his real intention to butter up the parliamentarians? To milk them for information? Furrer dismisses the idea: “We have no need to do so.” Clé de Berne was not conceived as a secret backroom of power, but as a place where “members like to come” regardless of their political persuasions. That, in any case, is what the statutes say. Its members include civic-minded citizens, as well as Social Democrats and Greens. Everyone is equal before a fine Bordeaux.

A twist to the left, a twist to the right – individual sausages must now be formed. Then a few are fried up fresh in the pan. It’s time for a glass of white wine. Cooking is something he takes seriously, says Furrer. “When I’m home, I cook dinner for my family.” And he enjoys making more elaborate meals for guests. As a pastor’s son there’s nothing he likes more than convivial gatherings. “There were always a lot of people around the table in my parents’ home,” he recalls.

The elevator door opens and the first female parliamentarian of the evening steps into the clubroom. She will have the opportunity to sample a piece of “Bernese lobby sausage” together with an aperitif. It is ready now, cut into bite-sized pieces and skewered on toothpicks. At the Clé de Berne, they don’t serve anything on paper plates, but on bone-white china.

 

It looks just like a paper plate: the finished product served on bone-white china.
Susanne Wenger

Journalist

Susanne Wenger is a freelance journalist based in in Bern. For years she worked as editor and section head for Swiss dailies, including Der Bund. Today she writes on social and health issues for journals, newspapers and agencies.

Photo: Béatrice Devènes

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