Having lived in Switzerland for 16 years, I am quite versed on the art of eating fondue. The Swiss have perfected this to an art. There are various different cheese mixtures including tomato fondue which I had once- it tasted a bit like liquid Pizza.
Cheese fondue made Swiss style is prepared on the stove in a decorative crock pot. The pot is rubbed with garlic, you add wine, various cheese types, corn starch to thicken it and a bit of schnapps to the mix. Bring it to a boil on the stove while constantly stirring until it reaches a rich and creamy consistency. Then you light the sterno and transfer it to the table. The fondue pot is in the center of the table and everyone puts bread on their special long forks with only three prongs on it. You put it into the fondue stir it around a time or two and then pull it out with strings of cheese that follow the fork back up the mouth of the enjoyer.
The adult version is to dip your bread in schnapps and then stir it into the cheese. If you loose your bread in the pot you have to do a shot of schnapps…who knew the Swiss were into drinking games. Don’t tell the college kids because they will start eating more fondue.
Well, tonight we planned to make a fondue in America. We got home late so we didn’t have a lot of time. Maybe we didn’t even have enough time to eat fondue…”Pleeeease the kids pleaded” and they gave me those puppy dog eyes that I couldn’t say no to. So I looked at the container we bought (this mix was from Trader Joes, which I might add has excellent fondue mixes and I am a true cheese connoisseur) and it came with microwave instructions. Really? At first I was skeptical. Leave it to the Americans to find a meal like fondue (in which the lengthy process is part of the enjoyment of eating it) and bring it down to an art of cooking it in 3 minutes so the meal can be finished in 10 minutes flat.
I know I am back into my American mindset as I accepted the short cut version and thought that is was perfectly acceptable to microwave it. What can I say, I can’t disappoint my kids, can I?
Well, I found that I did have a little Swiss left in me as I did not eat it from the plastic container. I also didn’t want to rush the eating and scraping process (this is the best part– when the cheese has been cooking a while and has burned a little to the bottom of the pot and has to be scraped off. We all fight over that part). We put the hot cheese from the container in the decorative fondue pot with matching plates that I brought back from Switzerland and lit the sterno. We ate it the old fashioned way, just sped up the cooking process. That sounds like the best of both worlds doesn’t it?