Why Wasabi goes with Sushi ... and other unexpected stories from Zurich’s Botanical Garden

Why Wasabi goes with Sushi ... and other unexpected stories from Zurich’s Botanical Garden

Have you ever wondered why wasabi is such an inseparable pairing with sushi? Do you enjoy hearing interesting foodie facts and tales about this sort of theme? Perhaps the last place you might ever think to learn such things would be at the Botanical Garden of Zurich … but you would be wrong!

Zurich’s Botanical Garden
What’s the sushi story?
Unlock plant stories
Leave no stone unturned
Tips for the botanical gardens

Zurich’s Botanical Garden

Have you ever wondered why wasabi is such an inseparable pairing with sushi? Do you enjoy hearing interesting foodie facts and tales about this sort of theme? Perhaps the last place you might ever think to learn such things would be at the Botanical Garden of Zurich … but you would be wrong! Believe me, I never imagined it myself.

Until I visited the Botanical Garden of Zurich for the first time, two years ago, on a sunny 1st of May Day. My husband and I went to soak up some nature and sunshine. Little did we know that we would also observe so many plants and discover so much about the “botanical world”.

The Botanical Garden belongs to the University of Zurich and you’ll find about 7,000 plant species there, spread out all over the 53.000m2 area. What makes the garden really unique are the three igloos housing tropical plantations.

What’s the sushi story?

In one of these igloos, we “met” this special plant of wasabi and found out that the reason why it is wed so tightly to sushi all across the world is because it helps to protect humans from food poisoning from the raw fish! Previously, people used to serve sushi with cold rice and conserved fish instead of raw, until they discovered that wasabi has strong anti-bacterial agents that fight against some of the bacteria from raw fish. For that reason, we humans can now go ahead and enjoy sushi made with good quality raw fish, safe from danger!

Unlock plant stories

In this botanical garden await many surprising plant tales like this! We found out about Equicetum, a plant that existed in the Earth’s first forests 250-350 million years ago, and which provided the origins of aloe vera and coffee (for which we humans are eternally grateful!). Many other plants – both familiar and not so well-known – gave up their secrets to us that May day. From tulips, citrus and bitter orange trees, to plants like the Alkana tuberculata (whose roots yield a rich red colour) and ones with aphrodisiac properties (no spoilers, you’ll have to come and find out for yourself!).

Leave no stone unturned but don’t pick any flowers!

You can easily spend a whole morning or afternoon here exploring all corners. There are so many things to see and do in this lovely garden. Stroll the forest path, take a seat next to the small lake to relax or read a book, absorb the bright variety of colours of the different flowers (your Instagram will thank you) while you uncover stories about exotic plants from all over the world. Best of all, the botanical gardens are completely free - and that is something rare indeed for Switzerland!

Tips for the botanical gardens

A lot of people say that the botanical garden is also very nice on rainy days as you can explore the tropical plantations in the igloos while you stay dry. My recommendation is to visit during spring time when the colours of nature are so fresh and bright, you’ll be seeing the gardens at their most glorious. Be sure to take the walk outside of the botanical garden too. There’s a scenic path by the river which makes a lovely promenade. Enjoy!

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