Fondue

By Tatiana Pietrzak


  • white ceramic mug on top sppon and strawberry surrounded leche plan and strawberry on black round shape tray

Cooking with cheese and wine. This is the foundation of Fondue. First mentioned around 800 – 725 BC, cooking cheese with wine started with goat cheese, wine, and flour. Homer’s Iliad was the first source to mention this. Greeks called it “kykeon”, a common drink among peasants or something used to break a sacred fast. The French word “fondue” was developed later from the word “fondre” which means to melt.

The Swiss Connection

The next mention of cooking cheese with wine can be found in the Swiss cookbook, Kochbuch der Anna Margaretha Gessner, in the 17th century. Swiss mountain peasants created fondue with leftovers of stale bread and hardened cheese during cold months when fresh produce was scarce. The mixture softened both the cheese and the bread. This was a means for survival. Still today the dish has become a Swiss winter tradition, although tourists will eat it year-round.

Modern Fondue 

Modern fondue started in the 1800s consists of melted cheese over an open flame and has roots in French Rhône-Alps near the Swiss Geneva border.

The Swiss Cheese Union declared it the national dish in the 1930s to help the sales of cheese in Switzerland. It is now made with gruyere, a hardy and nutty cheese, and Fribourg-style vacherin which is acidic, creamy and has a woodsy flavor, much like Italian Fontina. Both are cow’s milk cheeses.

Now it is traditional to use garlic, white wine, a little kirsch – cherry brandy, and corn starch. Fondue is served in an earthenware pot called a “caquelon” which is shallow and wide, heating evenly and for a longer time than other pots. There are many variations however, using mountain herbs, paprika, cayenne, nutmeg, mustard, and tomato coulis (a puree used as a sauce.) The caquelon, or fondue pot, is set upon a portable stove “réchaud” to keep it bubbling, but not hot enough to burn. Long forks are used to dip cubed country-style bread into it.  

Development

In the 1950s fondue expanded. It included dipping veges and fruits or pastries into cheese or chocolate. Fondue bourguigonne also came about where meats were dipped into hot oil or broth. Some variations also included cream and truffles, and raclette. Corn starch had also been introduced in 1905 as a way of keeping the mixture smooth and stable. All this helped to popularized the dish in the United States of America.

It became popular in America in the 1960s and 1970s. The Swiss promoted the dish to Americans, the world’s largest cheese market, at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and it was featured at the Swiss Pavilion’s Alpine restaurant. Fondue sets were also sent to military regiments and event organizers after World War II and were implemented into the cookbooks of the Swiss military.

Fondue

Ingredients

1 ½ cups grated Gruyère

1 ½ cups grated Raclette

½ cup Fontina

2 to 3 Tbls. cornstarch or all-purpose flour

1 clove of garlic, halved

1 cup dry white wine

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 oz. Kirsch

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

Crusty bread cut into 1-inch cubes

Directions

  1. Combine three cheeses and toss with cornstarch.
  2. Rub inside of fondue pot with garlic.
  3. Add wine. Heat over medium heat until hot but not boiling.
  4. Stir in lemon juice and Kirsch.
  5. Add a handful of cheese mixture at a time and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Fully melt then add another handful. Continue stirring until all cheese is melted and bubbling gently.
  6. Add more wine if too thick.
  7. Season with pepper and nutmeg.
  8. Place over a low flame on a table to continue to bubble gently.
  9. Dip and swirl bread on a long fork twice to soak up the cheese. Do not leave in too long, or the bread will fall into the pot and you will have to buy a round of drinks for every at the table!
  10. The crust at the bottom of the pot is considered a delicacy called “religieuse” or “the nun”. Some say it resembles the cap nuns would wear in the middle ages.

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Cooking with cheese and wine. This is the foundation of Fondue. First mentioned around 800 – 725 BC, cooking cheese with wine started with goat cheese, wine, and flour. It was first found to be mentioned in Homer’s Iliad. It was called “kykeon”, a common drink among peasants or used to break a sacred fast. The French word “fondue” was not developed later from the word “fondre” which means to melt.

The next mention of cooking cheese with wine can be found in the Swiss cookbook, Kochbuch der Anna Margaretha Gessner, in the 17th century. It is also said that Swiss mountain peasants created fondue with leftovers of stale bread and hardened cheese during cold months when fresh produce was scarce. The mixture softened both the cheese and the bread. It was a means for survival. Still today it has become a Swiss winter tradition, although tourists will eat it year-round.  

Modern fondue started in the 1800s consists of melted cheese over an open flame and has roots in French Rhône-Alps near the Swiss Geneva border.

The Swiss Cheese Union declared it the national dish in the 1930s to help the sales of cheese in Switzerland. It is now made with gruyere, a hardy and nutty cheese, and Fribourg-style vacherin which is acidic, creamy and has a woodsy flavor, much like Italian Fontina. Both are cow’s milk cheeses.

Now it is traditional to use garlic, white wine, a little kirsch – cherry brandy, and corn starch. It is served in an earthenware pot called a “caquelon” which is shallow and wide, heating evenly and for a longer time than other pots. There are many variations however, using mountain herbs, paprika, cayenne, nutmeg, mustard, and tomato coulis (a puree used as a sauce.) The caquelon, or fondue pot, is set upon a portable stove “réchaud” to keep it bubbling, but not hot enough to burn. Long forks are used to dip cubed country-style bread into it.  

In the 1950s fondue expanded. It included dipping veges and fruits or pastries into cheese or chocolate. Fondue bourguigonne also came about where meats were dipped into hot oil or broth. Some variations also included cream and truffles, and raclette. Corn starch had also been introduced in 1905 as a way of keeping the mixture smooth and stable. All this helped to popularized the dish in the United States of America.

It became popular in America in the 1960s and 1970s. It was promoted to Americans, the world’s largest cheese market, at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and featured at the Swiss Pavilion’s Alpine restaurant. Fondue sets were also sent to military regiments and event organizers after World War II and were implemented into the cookbooks of the Swiss military.

Sources:

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20130212-tracing-fondues-mysterious-origins#:~:text=The%20story%20of%20fondue&text=Its%20first%20mention%20dates%20as,of%20cooking%20cheese%20with%20wine.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fondue

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raclette

https://www.alpenwild.com/staticpage/fondue-history-and-tradition/https://blog.murrayscheese.com/2017/04/11/fondue-through-the-ages/

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