• Deborah Kade

First fondue of the season

Updated: Sep 11, 2019

September 10, 2019

The earliest known recipe for the modern form of cheese fondue comes from a 1699 book published in Züürich, under the name "Käss mit Wein zu kochen", "to cook cheese with wine". It calls for grated or cut-up cheese to be melted with wine, and for bread to be dipped in it.

However, the name "cheese fondue", until the late nineteenth century, referred to a dish composed of eggs and cheese, as in la Chapelle's 1735 Fonduë de Fromage, aux Truffes Fraiches; it was something between scrambled eggs with cheese and a cheese souffléé. Brillat- Savarin wrote in 1834 that it is "nothing other than scrambled eggs with cheese". Variations included cream ("à la genevoise") and truffles ("à la piémontaise") in addition to eggs, as well as what is now called "raclette" ("fondue valaisanne").

The first known recipe for the modern cheese fondue under that name, with cheese and wine but no eggs, was published in 1875, and was already presented as a Swiss national dish. Despite its modern associations with rustic mountain life, it was a town-dweller's dish from the lowlands of western, French speaking, Switzerland: rich cheese like Gruyère was a valuable export item which peasants could not afford to eat.

The introduction of cornstarch ("Maïzena") to Switzerland in 1905 made it easier to make a smooth and stable emulsion of the wine and cheese, and probably contributed to the success of fondue.

Fondue was popularized as a Swiss national dish by the Swiss Cheese Union (Schweizerische Käseunion) in the 1930's as a way of increasing cheese consumption. The Swiss Cheese Union also created pseudo-regional recipes as part of the "spiritual defense of Switzerland". After World War II rationing ended, the Swiss Cheese Union continued its marketing campaign, sending fondue sets to military regiments and event organizers across Switzerland. Fondue is now a symbol of Swiss unity.

In the meantime, fondue continued to be promoted aggressively in Switzerland, with slogans like "La fondue crée la bonne humeur" 'fondue creates a good mood' and (1981, in Swiss German) "Fondue isch guet und git e gueti Luune" 'fondue is good and creates a good mood' – abbreviated as "figugegl".

Fondue was promoted to Americans at the Swiss Pavilion's Alpine restaurant at the 1964 New York World's Fair.

The extension of the name "fondue" to other dishes served in a communal hot pot dates to 1950's New York. Konrad Egli, a Swiss restaurateur, introduced fondue bourguignonne at his Chalet Suisse restaurant in 1956. In the mid 1960's, he invented chocolate fondue as part of a promotion for Toblerone chocolate. A sort of chocolate mousse or chocolate cake had also sometimes been called "chocolate fondue" starting in the 1930's.

Cheese fondue consists of a blend of cheeses, wine and seasoning. To prepare the caquelon it is first rubbed with a cut garlic clove. White wine is slightly heated with cornstarch, and then grated cheese is added and stirred until melted. It is often topped off with a bit of kirsch. The cornstarch or other starch is added to prevent separation. The mixture is stirred continuously as it heats in the caquelon.

When it is ready, diners dip cubes of or tiny potatoes speared on a fondue fork into the mixture.

There are many types of Swiss fondue.

Vaudoise: Gruyère.

Fribourgeoise: Vacherin fribourgeois à fondue, wherein potatoes are often dipped instead of bread. This is the only cheese fondue that does not use wine. The cheese is melted in a few tablespoons of water over low heat.

Moitié-moitié (or half and half), also called Fondue Suisse: Gruyère and Fribourg vacherin.

Neuchâteloise: Gruyère and Emmental.

Innerschweiz: Gruyère, Emmental, and Sbrinz.

Genevoise: Gruyère (preferably of several stages of maturity) with a little Emmentaler and Valais cheese. Sometimes chopped sautéed morels are added.

Interlaken: Gruyère, Appenzeller, Emmental.

Appenzeller: Appenzeller cheese with cream added.

Tomato: Gruyère, Emmental, crushed tomatoes, and win.

Spicy: Gruyère, red and green peppers, with chili.

Mushroom: Gruyère, Fribourg vacherin, and mushrooms.

A tradition says that if a man loses his bread in the pot, he buys drinks all around.

Fondue is eaten by spearing a piece of bread on a fork, swirling it in the pot, and putting it into the mouth. Some writers recommend that the dipping fork be used only to transport the food from the pot to one's plate, not to eat from.

A cheese fondue mixture should be kept warm enough to keep the fondue smooth and liquid but not so hot that it burns. If this temperature is held until the fondue is finished there will be a thin crust of toasted (not burnt) cheese at the bottom of the caquelon. This is called la religieuse (French for the nun). It has the texture of a cracker and is almost always lifted out and eaten. I love the thin crust!!!

The choice of beverage to drink with fondue is specified in several conflicting traditions; some demand that white wine should be drunk, while others specify black tea as the beverage of choice. Some people drink a shot of spirits during or after the meal. A study published in 2010 showed that none of these beverages caused indigestion after eating fondue. DO NOT DRINK WATER and whatever you do stay away from the cold water. Drinking cold water causes the cheese to re-solidify in your stomach, and you can imagine how well THAT goes down with your loved ones and colleagues for the days following your fondue adventure.

We stopped at the Woodpecker wood carving store in Interlaken. I wanted to thank Gabriela on the wood carving she had done for my sister and brother-in-law. Gabriela was happy we were pleased with the piece.

Today she was working on a carving for a 50th birthday.

Decided to take a photo of some of the places in Interlaken that sell chocolate.

Funky Chocolate

Schuh Chocolate. I love to look at their window display.

Vanini has been in existence since 1871.

Swiss Chocolate Chalet

Pretty reusable wooden box filled with chocolates

Is it an apple a day that keeps the doctor away or is it dark chocolate?


Yummy, yummy, yummy.....


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