By Anthony Tripodi
The word fondue comes from the French word fondre and it means to melt or to blend. They should have named it after the French word for outstandingly delicious but even that would be limiting. There are so many varieties and types of fondues out there that perhaps one word really can't describe it.
I'm sure you've probably heard of or even tried cheese fondue. It was popular in the 70ies. If you weren't around back then, maybe you got a fondue pot as a wedding present and have been meaning to try it. Or maybe you have never tried it at all. Whatever your background, this guide will show you the basics of cheese fondue and hopefully get you excited to experiment with the many other varieties such as hot oil, broth or dessert fondues.
Cheese fondue originated in the alps at the end of winter when food supplies were low. Farmers would use what they had on hand to feed their families. Cheese, bread and wine were usually all that was available. So they threw the wine and cheese in a pot and dipped their bread in there and waited for Spring.
So why is fondue popular again? It's not because people are having a hard time finding food during the winter. Supermarkets took care of that problem. No, fondue is popular again because it's fun and delicious. A fondue party is a great way to have a dinner party. All the prep can be done before the guests arrive and the host can enjoy the meal and their company without running back and forth from the kitchen to the dinner table.
Okay, so lets get you cooking. First thing you'll need to try fondue is a fondue pot. The electric fondue pots are best for a beginner. Just plug them in, set the temp and you're all set. There are also ceramic pots and metal pots that you could use but you can't cook hot oil fondue in a ceramic pot and the metal pots aren't great for cheese fondue. The electric fondue pots are the most versatile and they are even made dishwasher safe now.
Classic Cheese Fondue. is the first recipe you should try. When people talk about fondue this is what they are talking about. Remember to use the real Gruyere and Emnenthaler cheeses and not some swiss from the supermarket. You'll taste the difference and so will your guests.
Classic Cheese Fondue
1/2 lb Emnenthaler Cheese (shredded)
1/2 lb Gruyeye (shredded)
1 clove Garlic
2 cups Dry White Wine
1 tbs Lemon Juice
2 tbs Flour
3 tbs Kirsch (also known as Kirschwasser - cherry brandy)
1/4 tsp White Pepper
Nutmeg and/or Paprika to taste
Rub the inside of the fondue pot with the garlic clove - add clove to pot or disgard it (your choice)
Heat up the White Wine & Lemon Juice - should be hot but do not boil
Reduce heat to low and slowly add cheese while stirring
Slowly add remainder of ingredients while stirring
Italian Bread (or any crusty bread) cut into bite-sized cubes
Vegetables - Broccoli, Cauliflower, Bell Peppers, etc.
Fondue Tips & Traditions:
* If the fondue is too hard add more wine
* If the fondue is too soft add more cheese
* Have your guests stir in a figure eight pattern each time they dip something
* Tradition says that if the item you're dipping comes off of your fork:
--- Men: Next round of drinks is on you
--- Women: You must kiss the man to your left
* Make up your own traditions. The ones above are outdated and sound a little chauvinistic to me.
* Cold drinks are not usually served.
* The traditional drink for fondue is hot tea or the wine that you used to cook with.
* Ignore the rules and serve Merlot. It goes great with cheese fondue.
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