It’s 5pm, you’re back in the chalet after a great day on the slopes and decide to round the evening off with a delicious fondue. Just mention the word ‘fondue’ and it conjures up a wealth of images, souvenirs and flavours! If you really want to know all there is to know about fondue, this article is for you!
Whether the Savoyards like it or not, fondue is well and truly a dish that we owe to the Swiss (if you’re not convinced, have a look at dictionary definition), and to the Fribourg canton in particular. At the start of the 18th century, the Fribourg mountainfolk used their leftover bread and cheese to make a very cheap and hearty meal, which quickly spread to the rest of the country.
The recipe became official thanks to Brillat-Savarin, a French gourmet (who the famous cheese was also named after) who wrote the first recipe using gruyere cheese, eggs and butter back in 1794. Wine was not added to the recipe until 1911.
The turning point in the history of fondue was in 1940 at New York’s World Fair, where the Swiss exhibited their new fondue pot and invited visitors to sample their tasty wares. This created a new Swiss emblem around the world.
So, if you want to make the «original» fondue, you’ll need to follow the Fribourg recipe, which uses vacherin cheese and should be eaten with white bread or potatoes. This easy-to-follow recipe can be made with just a candle beneath the fondue pot; the cheese doesn’t go hard when it’s cold, making it the best fondue to eat outside on a terrace.
«Savoyarde» fondue is made using three different types of cheese, not all of which are Savoyard but which are extremely tasty all the same! Comté, which is from the Jura, Swiss emmental and Savoyard beaufort.
Each region has its own recipe, using local cheese and specialities, making fondue a veritable culinary journey. My personal favourite is the Italian Val d’Aosta fondue; this recipe uses the deliciously creamy La Fontina cheese,.
There are various recipes that allow you to cook «fondue style», using fish, vegetables or meat, such as the Bourguigonne fondue, Bresse fondue, Chinese fondue, Japanese fondue, seafood fondue, ocean fondue, Vietnamese fondue, winemaker’s fondue, red wine fondue and even chocolate fondue! Fondue’s a state of mind at the end of the day!
So don’t hesitate to mix up your cheeses, shake up tradition and come up with your own fondue recipe!
And if you want to spice it up a little, don’t forget your dental floss, (on sale in all good chemist’s), but don’t be too heavy handed ;-)!
On that note, bon appétit and Arvi pa (or Au revoir if you prefer)!