Fondues and Fondon’ts
Bonjour mes amies!
Last weekend I was feeling Frenchy. I’ve traveled to Paris before and found myself missing the beautiful city of love. Around this time my roommate—who’s been working two jobs for the past seven months—announced she was quitting one job for a full time position at the other. To celebrate, and to quench my thirst for a Paris reunion, I proposed we have a night of fanciness and revelry: Fondue night.
We did not however go to a restaurant. Our meager salaries do not permit such revels. Instead we had delicious fondue in our own home, thanks to my sister. If you can’t tell by now my darling Sporkers, I eat far too much cheese. I eat cheese every single day, usually multiple times a day. If I had to choose between cheese and losing a limb…well you get the idea. My sister, knowing this great love, gifted me a fondue set for my birthday one year. I highly recommend getting one of these babies; it is one of the best gifts I’ve received and has served me well in bringing together wonderful friends and a deliciously gooey meal. And my set lived up to its flawless reputation by doing so for my roommate and me.
Fondue originated in Switzerland, coming from the French word “fondre,” which means to melt. The brand I used is one my parents got from Quebec, Canada—Fromalp, “The Authentic Swiss Fondue.” Lucky for me the directions come in French and English.
However, cheese is not the key ingredient to fondue. I can hear your gasp of shock, but what I say is true. The true secret ingredient to fondue: friends. Fondue is a communal pot meant for everyone to enjoy. There is no such thing as a fondue set accompanied by just one fork. It’s a dish for merriment and festivities and for the sake of being together. In college, especially around finals when stress was high, I would invite my friends over for fondue night. I sent out a call for everyone to come out of the cave known as “library,” leave all books behind, and join me for a well-deserved break. Relax and let the melted gooeyness work out all the knots in your shoulders, let the laughter flow as much as the wine, and give a toast to the simple things in life.
Suggested song to play while cooking (in this case, fondue-ing): Complainte de la Butte by Rufus Wainwright
Silver Spork Fondue
1 box fondue cheese—can be found in supermarkets with all the other cheese, usually by the deli. Brand I used was: Fromalp of the Agropur Import Collection. Highly recommend it.
2-3 teaspoons garlic powder
2-3 teaspoons paprika
Dash of salt
Dash of pepper
2-3 tablespoons of Classico Traditional Pesto Basil
Some suggestions to dip in the sauce:
*usually the box will tell you what else to add—some want white wine, some don’t, but you can always choose your own spices and quirks, as I did.
Pour the pouch of cheese into a caquelon (fondue pot) or, if you’re without one, you can use a small saucepan. Put on stove over medium heart. If you use a saucepan, be careful about burning the cheese on the bottom. Fondue pots have thicker bottoms to prevent this, saucepans do not.
Stir continuously with a wooden spoon. Add in spices and pesto. Stir until cheese is thoroughly melted. The measurements above are approximations, really just season to taste.
Place the caquelon or pan over a small spirit burner to keep the fondue warm. I used a Sterno can—my fondue set came with a metal dome to place the lit Sterno under with a hole on top for the pot to rest over.
Grab a fondue fork and enjoy!
Though fondue is best with a crowd, this night just my roommate and I shared the cheese, but whether it’s two or twenty, there will always be joy. Somehow fondue is able to make one feel refined and exotic while at the same time giddy and frivolous.
The mission statement on my fondue box is worth a read: “Agropor Import collection will seduce the epicurean in you. Our mission: to offer Canadians the best selection of fine cheeses from around the world, giving them an authentic uncompromised taste.” Epicurean means to be luxurious or indulge in sensual pleasures, so go forth dearies, grab some cheese, some friends, and a fondue fork, and find your inner epicurean!
Post and photos by Shannon Moloney.