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Debates about the cheese fondue usually divide people into two rival camps. There are the committed and loyal fans of the molten cheese and, on the other side of the divide, the adamant fondue-haters. Basically, you either love it or you hate it. The Swiss national dish is known far beyond the country’s borders and, if you happen to love it, is actually quite easy to prepare. Due to its simplicity, fondue tastes as good at home as it does in a fancy restaurant.
Fondue Recipe and What Cheeses to Use for a Fondue
Take the fondue pot and rub a clove of garlic all over the bottom of it. Two more garlic cloves are quartered and together with the cheese are added to the pot. In Switzerland, the supermarkets have a fairly decent selection of finished cheese mixes, but it is also possible to buy blocks of cheese and grate it yourself. Cheeses that are suitable include Gruyère, Appenzeller, Emmertaler and Vacherin, but a mix of different types can be very good as well. Melt the cheese on medium heat (not too hot, or it starts to separate) and refine it with some dry white wine and season with nutmeg and pepper. If the fondue is too thick, add some more wine, if it’s too thin, add a little bit of starch. Place the fondue pot on its stand and light a gel fuel to keep the cheese melted. Finished!
Traditionally, a fresh and crusty Swiss bread is used for dipping, but other people prefer a selection of vegetables, mushrooms or boiled potatoes as well. Fondue is all good fun, but a lot of Swiss people tend to follow a few rules:
Rule Nr.1: Not during the summer! A fondue is the perfect meal for the colder seasons. Who wants to sit sweating in front of a big pot of cheese in 30°C heat and then try to digest said hot lump of cheese while sweating some more? Absolutely no one. Many travellers visit Switzerland during the summer months, then of course want to try the famous national dish and subsequently seriously question the weird sense of taste people seem to have in Switzerland. While there are many legitimate reasons to not like melted cheese as a meal, I still stand by the opinion that some people simply can’t stand fondue because they have eaten it at the wrong time of the year.
Rule Nr.2: Game on! Before the jolly fondue evening can begin, a few ground rules have to be laid down. If someone is clumsy and loses the piece of bread in the cheese, that person has to pay for the next round of schnapps. Alternatively, wine, beer or any other drink can be donated. If the loser is a woman, she can, instead of paying, choose to kiss all the men at the table. Another rule entails that one can’t fish out the cloves of garlic until half the fondue is eaten, and then only with bread on the fork. Fondue should be fun and rules can be adjusted, added or left out. Be creative!
Rule Nr. 3: Wine and tea! There are two and only two beverages that can be enjoyed with your fondue : a cold wine or a hot tea . Ideally, you have that already opened bottle of white wine and have already poured a bit of it into the fondue. The wine therefore naturally goes very well with it and it is a tradition in Switzerland to consume the rest of the bottle as well. For other people , tea is the one true drink accompanying cheese fondue. When going with tea, I personally prefer black tea or apple tea.
After the fondue is eaten and everyone is slumped over and moaning about the lump of cheese in their stomachs, the most delicious part is still up for grabs. While the fondue simmers, a crispy thick crust forms at the bottom, called “la religieuse” (the religious), which usually leads to some very heated fork fights.