According to history experts, fondue consists of at least two
varieties of cheeses that are melted with wine and a bit of flour.
It’s served communally out of pot called a “caquelon”. Long forks
are used by each guest to spear a cube of bread then the bread is
dipped into the cheese and eaten.
How did cheese fondue get started?
Fondue history states that this warm melted cheese dish originated
in Switzerland specifically in the region of Neuchatel. The word
“fondue” is from a French derivative “fondre” which means ” to
Today fondues use more than the original bread to dip into the pot.
Bread is still the favoured dipping item but fresh vegetables are
now also popular particularly with healthy issues in mind. Fondues
are also now pots of more than melted cheeses. They can be a
sauce, oil, broth or the traditional melted cheese. Personally. I
believe that a true fondue should involve cheese – anything else is
a poor second cousin.
Originally, fondues were created out of necessity prior to
refrigeration. Cheeses and breads – which were made in the summer
and autumn months – became hard as rocks after several months.
Locals came to realise that if they heated the cheese with some
wine over the fire it became soft and extremely tasty and the bread
which was too hard by itself became extremely edible if dunked into
the heated cheese mixture.
Once a necessity, the cooking method of fondue became a social
custom of making the best of the long, cold Swiss winters by
huddling around the fire with friends or family with a large pot of
cheese and some hard bread. It’s a tradition that has stood the
years and travelled across the continents.
Most recipes we see for “traditional” Swiss style fondue are a
combination of two cheeses used, Gruyere and Emmenthaler. They are
combined because either cheese alone would make for a mixture that
was too sharp or too bland. However any cheese combination will
work . Tasty cheeses can be added to a broth of wine or
wine/stock. Kirsch was also added if the cheeses didn’t have
Although the baby boomers will cringe when the term”fondue” is
mentioned, anyone younger than this will enjoy this very social
culinary experience. Fondue pots are available again in kitchen
shops and can double up as a pot to melt chocolate in for dipping
strawberries etc for desserts.
So for a very different and highly interactive dinner party, try a
fondue party. You could also theme it by asking guests to dress in
70’s gear as well and play 70’s music to complete the theme.
Here’s a delicious and easy recipe for traditional Swiss Fondue:
What you’ll need:
2 cups shredded process Swiss cheese ( or Grandvewe’s Primavera!)
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp pepper
1 cup buttermilk
1 clove garlic
Dry white table wine
Cooked ham cubes
Serve this version of Swiss fondue with ham cubes and toast
triangles that are made ahead for swirling in the cheese mixture.
You can also use fresh fruits such as apple and pear slices.
Start by tossing the cheese with cornstarch, salt, dry mustard,
nutmeg, and pepper. Heat the buttermilk with the garlic in a double
boiler or over hot water in the fondue pot. When thoroughly heated,
remove the garlic and add the cheese mixture. Stir it until the
cheese melts and is blending smoothly.
Heat the wine up a little and add gradually to the mixture, 2 Tbsp
at a time. This keeps the fondue at a dipping consistency. Serve
your guest and make sure each has a fondue fork to use with the ham
cubes and fruit. Once you swirl the ham in the cheese mixture,
place it on top of the bread and eat until you can eat no more.
Use the same fondue pot (emptied and cleaned) to melt some high
quality chocolate with a splash of a liqueur added for dipping
fruits as a dessert finale to the evening.
Keep being ewenique!