When all we want to happen is have the snow melt - what better way than celebrating the cold weather on our heated, tented patio with the word Foudre, which means to melt, with a Fun Fondue party.
Some say the French invented fondue, and the Swiss capitalized on it – or it could be the other way around. Originally, peasants in the French Rhone-Alpes region near the Geneva border are attributed to creating the melty goodness. The peasants used the old rinds of cheese, mixing whatever they had left with wine and strong alcohol and used their old crusty bread to sustain them through the cold winter months. The Swiss Cheese Union (Schweizer Käseunion) decided to call cheese fondue the Swiss national dish in the 1930s. Cheese fondue, once made from necessity, soon became a glamorous après Ski dinner for the rich and famous.
Depending on which region you are in, different cheese combinations are offered. The most common is moitié-moitié which means half and half. The Gruyere cheese is mixed with a cow milk cheese such as Raclette, Appenzeller, Emmentaler or Vacherin Fribougeois. They added a little garlic, wine and kirschwasser. Some people add mountain herbs, paprika, cayenne, nutmeg and mustard and some even use tomato sauce. If you’re in the Italian part of the Swiss Alps they use Fontina cheese and white truffles. The cheese mixture is melted in a pot, some are made of earthenware known as caquelon, where some are made of copper. The guests skewer the bread and swirl it around in the melted cheese. It is very important to not “lose” your bread into the pot. It has had many consequences ranging from having to kiss everyone at your table, pay for a drink for everyone at your table or by having to do all the dishes. It is considered very bad form to lose the bread. As the cheese cooks away, some extend the meal by adding a raw egg and making cheesy scrambled eggs, others let the cheese scald at the bottom of the pan. When the scalded cheese is scraped off the bottom it is called Les Religieuse and is given to the guest of honor. It is a prized delicacy.
The Fondue involving meat was created in the Middle Ages in the Burgundy region of France. It came to fruition when the peasants were working on the farms from morning until night and did not have time to return to their homes for dinner. A large pot of boiling oil was kept out so that they could take quick breaks and cook skewered meat on a stick. This type of fondue is known as Fondue Bourguignonne. French people decided to enhance their boiled meats by inventing dipping sauces. Most sauces are attributed to other countries or regions, taking inspiration from their spices. For example: North Africa region of Tunisia or Algeria mixes tomato base with the fiery Harissa - made of red peppers and chili peppers, Sauce Indienne -combines curry and tomato paste, Hungarian offers paprika, Bulgarian has mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire, veal demi and tomato paste. There are also mayonnaise based sauces such as from Provence- Aioli, Dijon and Dijonaisse sauce, and horseradish mayonnaise to name just a few.
A Swiss man traveling to China brought back the Fondue using a Court Bouillon (A broth) to boil meat in. The Swiss call it Fondue Court Bouillon. It takes longer to cook the meat than the oil but it does impart flavor.
The Chocolate Fondue is a late entrant into the Fondue game and most people say it was invented in the 20th Century in America. However, in France, a Chef said he invented it as a promotion to highlight Toblerone chocolate. Needless to say all people enjoy this invention and it is seen in all Fondue restaurants around the world.