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Fondue - feast of the mountains

FondueIt was the law in England until the 1990's that any couple getting married had to be given at least one fondue set as a wedding present (*).

The first fondue type recipe was published in a Zurich cookbook in 1699. It called for grated or cut up cheese to be melted with wine and for bread to be dipped into it. Things have changed little since then, although the saucy temptress that is Nigella Lawson adds Kirsch and a clove of garlic, whilst the little scamp that is Jamie Oliver adds shallots, cider and, controversially, blue cheese. I could find no recipe from Saint Delia of Smith for fondue. I think my Google may be broken.

Strangely, fondue was originally a lowlands dish as the poorer people in the mountains couldn't afford the Gruyere cheese needed to make the dish - the dish of the mountain folk was raclette.

In the 1930's the Swiss Cheese Union (Is their CEO called the Big Cheese?) promoted fondue as a method of increasing the sale of cheese. Thereafter, the Swiss used it to promote a sense of national unity and it became associated with all things good, mountainous, healthy and Swiss.

The fondue police have declared two rules. No double dipping and don't eat directly from the dipping fork; rather, transfer the bread and cheese to your plate and use a knife and fork. The rules are quite rightly widely flouted. Watching your partner searching for a lost crouton in the mix can provide hours of amusement. And transferring a super heated semi-fluid to your mouth via a 10-inch stick whilst avoiding delicate lips is the second most extreme sport you will engage in this week.

Apparently, folk law insists that if a female loses her crouton in the mix she has to kiss all the men that are present.

There are two legends of the dish that remain undisputed; immediately after finishing the meal all declare that it was great and they must make it when they return home as they have a fondue set in the loft. Secondly, the word “fondue” is never mentioned again until the next skiing holiday.

(*) I may have made that up.

Monsieur Mogul


Monsieur Mogul – Our man in La Plagne

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author

alone and not those of Ice and Fire Ski and Snowboard Holidays

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