I’m not sure how, but fondue passed me by in the 70s. My folks had all the other trendy appliances of the day; crock pots, electric frying pans, but the communal dining experience of dipping bits of food into cheese, oil or chocolate never happened in our house. When Greg arrived on my doorstep in 1994 he came with a fondue set, a leftover wedding present from his first marriage. It sat on a shelf in a closet until we sold it at a yard sale.
Sure, there was the occasional party where someone put out a fondue for guests to nibble at. These brief attempts at the process were frustrating – I’d end up losing more than I managed to eat. I assumed the tradition of losing your food in the pot and buying a round of drinks meant that the fondue was just an excuse to get drunk. Because booze and fondue go hand in hand.
A classic winter comfort food, this Swiss creation was invented to use up bits of stale cheese and bread during the long cold winters. A splash of wine, or maybe beer, thinned the melted cheese enough to dip bread and other items into it. The shared pot came from not only a lack of utensils, but a need to stay close to the warm fire, as well as a sense of community and sharing. And while the food cooked, more beer and wine was consumed all around.