Why Not Fondue Friday?

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The days—and nights—are cold, and chances are you’re falling back on comfort foods to get you through. Beef stew. Soups of all kinds. Meat pies. Macaroni and cheese.

Speaking of cheese, one comfort food that you and your family may not have yet discovered is fondue. It comes from the Alps (Switzerland, France, and Italy), where they definitely know about cold. And besides being a food that will warm you up, fondue is … fun!

The fun comes from it being a communal activity. You melt cheese in a pot (special fondue pots keep a heat source under them, so that the cheese remains at just the right temperature), and using long-stemmed forks, you dip cubes of bread into the pot. The cheese itself is actually a mixture of white wine, cheese, various seasonings, garlic, and often kirsch, and there are few things that will warm your stomach quite as well.

Legend has it that fondue was created by a shepherd in the Swiss Alps who was inspired to heat his nightly dinner of wine and cheese in a pot, then ate the concoction with bread.

Cheese fondue consists of a blend of cheeses, wine and seasoning. Prepare the special pan—called a caquelon—first by rubbing it with a cut garlic clove. White wine is slightly heated with cornstarch, and then grated cheese is added and stirred until melted. It is often topped off with a bit of kirsch. The cornstarch or other starch is added to prevent separation, and the mixture is stirred continuously as it heats in the caquelon. Voilà!

Of course, you don’t have to confine yourself to cheese. Another favorite is chocolate fondue, with fruit dipped instead of bread. Or you can do a meat fondue, dipping into a nice broth. A brief tour of the internet will give you myriad ways of enjoying fondue. Almost every urban area has a restaurant or two that specialize in fondue, but we think you should try it at home. Why not an occasional “Fondue Friday”? Your kids will live it, and the preparation and clean-up are a breeze!