|Place of origin||Switzerland|
|Main ingredients||Cheeses, white wine, seasoning, garlic, often kirsch|
Fondue (UK: /( ) /, US: /( ) /, French: [fɔ̃dy]) is a Swiss melted cheese dish served in a communal pot (caquelon or fondue pot) over a portable stove (réchaud) heated with a candle or spirit lamp, and eaten by dipping bread into the cheese using long-stemmed forks. It was promoted as a Swiss national dish by the Swiss Cheese Union (Schweizerische Käseunion) in the 1930s, and was popularized in North America in the 1960s.
Since the 1950s, the term "fondue" has been generalized to other dishes in which a food is dipped into a communal pot of liquid kept hot in a fondue pot: chocolate fondue, fondue au chocolat, in which pieces of fruit or pastry are dipped into a melted chocolate mixture, and fondue bourguignonne, in which pieces of meat are cooked in hot oil or broth.
The word fondue is the feminine passive past participle of the French verb fondre ("to melt") used as a noun. It is first attested in French in 1735, in Vincent la Chapelle's Cuisinier moderne, and in English in 1878.
The earliest known recipe for the modern form of cheese fondue comes from a 1699 book published in Zurich, 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 soufflé. 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.
Fondue was popularized as a Swiss national dish by the Swiss Cheese Union (Schweizerische Käseunion) in the 1930s as a way of increasing cheese consumption. The Swiss Cheese Union also created pseudo-regional recipes as part of the "spiritual defence 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".
A fondue party can be great fun
The extension of the name "fondue" to other dishes served in a communal hot pot dates to 1950s New York. Konrad Egli, a Swiss restaurateur, introduced fondue bourguignonne at his Chalet Suisse restaurant in 1956. In the mid 1960s, 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 1930s.
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 stabilizes and thickens the mixture. Additional wine may be added if the fondue is too thick; its acid and ethanol decrease the fondue's viscosity.
Temperature and la religieuse
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.
The regional names used for some of these variants are factitious, and do not reflect genuine regional traditions.
- Vaudoise: Gruyère.
- Fribourgeoise: Vacherin fribourgeois à fondue,[Note 1] 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 wine.
- Spicy: Gruyère, red and green peppers, with chili.
- Mushroom: Gruyère, Fribourg vacherin, and mushrooms.
- Savoyarde: Comté, Beaufort and one or two other local cheese like Reblochon, Abondance, or French equivalent of Gruyère.
- Jurassienne: Mature or mild Comté.
- Auvergnate: Saint-Nectaire, Cantal and Fourme d'Ambert
- Valdôtaine (French: Fondue à la valdôtaine or Italian: Fonduta alla valdostana): Fontina, milk, eggs, and truffles, typical of the Aosta Valley;
- Fonduta piemontese in Piedmont.
Prepared convenience food
Fondue chinoise (lit. "Chinese fondue") is a common name for hot pot, where meat and vegetables are cooked in a shared pot of broth, or just dip the thinly sliced meat with a fondue fork into boiling broth with salad as side dish. Various sauces and pickled condiments are provided on the side. After all the diners have finished cooking, they eat the now well-flavored broth often combined with thin noodles.
Fondue bourguignonne consists of a fondue pot filled with hot oil into which diners dip pieces of meat to cook them. Various dipping sauces are provided on the side.
"Fondue vigneronne" or "Fondue Bacchus" is like fondue bourguignonne, with wine rather than oil. Red wine fondue consists of red wine boiled, and seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, onions and herbs; the white wine version is spiced with cinnamon, chilis, coriander, white pepper and enriched with chicken broth. The guests then dip meat, fish or vegetables in the caquelon and top them with bearnaise, tartare sauce or simply French mustard.
Consumption and etiquette
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.
Losing a piece of bread in the caquelon is traditionally penalized by buying a round of drinks, singing a song, or running around in the snow naked. This is parodied in Asterix in Switzerland, where a character is sentenced to be drowned in Lake Geneva after losing his third piece of bread.
There are various recommendations on the choice of accompanying beverage: some say white wine, others specify black tea. Some drink spirits during or after the meal, which supposedly helps digestion. Indeed, alcohol may provide short-term relief, but overall, it delays gastric emptying and prolongs perceived fullness. The delayed, strong feeling of fullness after eating fondue may be caused by phase separation in the stomach, the cheese fat initially floating in the stomach not released into the duodenum, delaying fat sensing and satiation.
- Bagna càuda, a similar olive oil-based Northern Italian dish.
- Chocolate fountain
- List of bread dishes
- List of cheese dishes
- List of cheese soups
- List of dips
- Nabemono, a variety of Japanese hot pot dishes
- Shabu-shabu a Japanese version of Chinese hot pot
- Welsh rarebit
- Food portal
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- Fondue as a social event
- Isabelle Raboud-Schüle, "Comment la fondue vint aux Suisses", Annales fribourgeoises 72:101–112 (2010)
- Swiss Fondue - The fine art of fondue in 52 tasty recipes
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