When you think of Switzerland, it is probably cheese and chocolate that first comes to mind. The ingredient they have in common is milk, and this is where you picture happy cows munching flowers in an Alpine meadow, cow bells round their necks.

What might take you by surprise is that milk is also a key ingredient in what can only be described as the Swiss national drink.

Rivella, 78 million litres of which is apparently consumed every year, might look like a sort of golden soda, but actually contains 35% milk whey. This is a protein-containing, low fat by-product of the cheese industry and, in powder form, is available as a food supplement as well as being used as an additive in biscuits, bread and pastry. Here it gives real meaning to the brand name, which is loosely derived from the Italian word for ‘revelation’.

I’ve lived in Switzerland twice during my peripatetic life, and enjoy Rivella very much, so I was amazed and delighted to find it (and for less than S$5) on the shelves of an upmarket grocery store in Singapore. There might be 7 different varieties these days, but the original with the red label is the one that sends me down memory lane.