Fasnacht for a foodie



Four days ago before dawn, Basel’s carnival opened with a bang. More than any other event on the city calendar, Fasnacht, called “the three most beautiful days” by Baslers, defines the character of the city. It’s bigger than life, politically savvy, and an insider’s heyday of pipes, drums and (mostly) controlled mayhem.

Lots of people leave town to avoid all the confetti-flinging and music-making. I’ve done the same in past years, but this time, I stayed in town.

Flour soup (acquired taste) and crispy “fasting bread” (delicious)

Gluttony for the ears and a feast for the eyes, Fasnacht is not about haute cuisine. Its signature foodstuffs are those of what is, after all, a Lenten affair: “Fastenwähen”, an airy pretzel-shaped bread spattered with toasted cumin caraway seeds, tender and sweet “Fasnachtskiechli” onion pies, and “Basler Mehlsuppe”, gruel made with a flour roux and a dollop of Swiss wine, and sprinkled with grated cheese. For some, the soup is an acquired taste, but I rather like it. And I really like the pretzels!

Chefs on parade

Culinary costumes make it into the big parades
I scored a wooden spoon from this character
I scored a wooden spoon from this character
More chefs on the march in one of the parades
Fanciful use of a colander and miscellaneous kitchen/food items…and of course, a Swiss flag!


Savory snacks, a night on the Munsterplatz

Pretzels, some with cheese, are crowd pleasers
Savory onion pies, wonderful on a wintry day
In the evenings, dining tents on the Munsterplatz make a fine, warming stop while viewing the display of carnival lanterns


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Anita is an avid traveler who delights in sharing her discoveries of cultural traditions around the world. She is on a never-ending quest for good food, and the people who make it. Follow Anita on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Anita,

    I'm really intrigued by Fasnacht & look forward to reading more from you.

    Can imagine "(mostly) controlled mayhem" in Basel is a bit different that the San Francisco version I'm used to!

    Congrats on going live. Can't wait to read more from you.

  2. Thanks Marla! Still trying to get my other Fasnacht photos to upload…along with some fascinating bits and bobs about the unique carnival here.