A bubbling fondue pot is a party waiting to happen. A simmering vessel of savory or sweet sauce, platters of dip-worthy victuals, a basket of long forks or skewers — add guests to the mix, and pretty soon they're shoulder-to-shoulder, dipping, sipping, munching, and laughing. With this book and a few well-chosen implements, you can make the party a reality.
Fondue, a centuries-old Swiss dish with culinary cousins in many countries, likely started as peasant food. Melting cheeses together, with a splash of wine or spirits and herbs and spices, offered a way to reclaim and share leftovers from the summer larder. One can imagine family and neighbors savoring the aroma of the hot, intensely flavorful melts during cold Alpine winters. Swirling chunks of crusty bread in the communal pot warmed hearts as well as stomachs. Of course, as with many worthy peasant dishes, fondue also found favor with people of means. Embellished with quality ingredients and more refined implements, fondue — from the French
On the other side of the globe, communal cooking over a hot pot of broth had equally practical origins. More than a thousand years ago, Mongolian nomads prepared meals in a bubbling cauldron heated by campfire. This practice of creating a portable feast every night evolved into a rich, diverse network of hot pot cooking traditions throughout Asia. Each province or country highlights its own lively flavors and ingredients in sociable meals that often have cultural as well as culinary significance.
Fondue purists can recite a litany of fondue rules ranging from the proper ingredients and perfect dippers to the preferred cooking vessels. There are rituals appropriate to specific European fondues and Asian hot pot meals, plus variations that apply to dishes starring cheese, oil, broth, wine or beer, sauces, chocolate, or other sweets.
All of that historic etiquette and trivia is well and good, and certainly interesting to learn. But here's the important thing to remember: A fondue is a way to bring people together to share a meal. By all means, learn as much as you can about classic fondue cooking (this book will help you!), but don't be afraid to experiment. Party fare should never be intimidating to the cook, or the guest.
So, add a soupçon of your favorite sauce or spice to melted cheese. Turn your signature party dip into a fondue masterpiece. Go ahead and dip Grandma's special fruitcake into a warm caramel–cream cheese bath for dessert. All the so-called classic fondue dishes started with ingredients on hand and a creative cook — feel free to start your own fondue traditions. If you need a little inspiration, start with the menus and recipes offered in this book.
Whether you're planning a fabulous fete, a little holiday hoopla, or just a casual, sociable supper,