Cheese Fondue was invented by Swiss Villagers in the 18th century out of necessity for survival. During the harsh winters these villages were so spread out it became difficult to trade or have fresh food.  Instead, most people relied on foods like bread and cheese, which were made in the summer and had to last through the fall and winter months.

Since stale cheese and bread becomes very hard and doesn’t taste that great, the villagers found that if they heated the cheese over fire it improved the taste and was much easier to eat. Furthermore, they discovered that the hard bread would soften when dipped into the cheese.

Soon they began mixing in wine and other seasonings to transform old cheese and bread into a flavorful meal…What we known today as Cheese Fondue

The traditional pot used to make fondue is called a “caquelon,” which is made of heavy earthenware. A heavy pot promotes even heat distribution and heat retention in the fondue.  The poorer villagers didn’t have the luxury of enough eating utensils, and they also had to gather around the fire to stay warm. These two factors probably explain why fondue is eaten out of one pot. To this day, fondue has the connotation of being a communal meal.  – During the sixties and seventies, people latched on to this communal image, and fondue dinner parties were extremely popular. Today fondue is enjoying a rebirth of sorts and has once again become fashionable.

Typical fondue cheese recipes include sharp cheeses (like cheddar) or strong cheeses (like Swiss).  But today the most popular types are ones that melt well, like Emmentaler, Gruyere, and fontina.  Additional ingredients such as milk, spices, cream, wine, or brandy may be added to the fondue to balance out the cheese flavor and thicken the fondue.

The key to a successful fondue is to make sure that the sauce stays smooth. Cheese has the tendency to get stringy or clumpy as the fat separates from the protein at high temperatures. To ensure that this does not happen, gradually stir the cheese at a temperature just below its melting point.

Melting Pot restaurants are giving away free Cheese Fondue this week in honour of the holiday!  But book your reservation fast!  They fill up quickly. – Had I known about this event sooner I would have loved to have fondue there, but I made my own using Emmentaler and Gruyere.  It turned out delicious!! A little white wine and lemon to start, then added in the cheeses [from Laria’s Cheese Shop Nanuet,NY].  I dipped bread, broccoli, and roast beef in it. Yuuummm Yummm!

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