The cold season is coming quickly, but as you (should) know, in our regions (read Switzerland), we have an antidote:
There are almost as many recipes for fondue as there are people preparing it, and just as many stories on its origin, the pooling of bread, cheeses and wine, which makes the whole - the fondue - superior to the sum of its ingredients.
Cheese fondue tradition has deep roots in our regions, and its principle is so universally recognized that the bourguignons (Bourgogne regions people), the Chinese, and others have tried it, but without success. Their meat does not melt in an tasty and creamy mixture, and just does not generate the same good mood; quite the contrary in fact since with these so-called fondues, there is always someone to steal another's fork! (Note: yes I know, fondue bourguignonne was invented by a Swiss).
There are of course really bad fondues, such as those my aunts would prepare when I was young, pretexting that children should not know the taste of wine: water based fondue, apple juice based fondue and even vinegar based fondues! don't try them.
There are also ready made fondues, in bags or cans. Their use is only to be considered in extreme cases (the Swiss army serves canned fondue to its soldiers).
On a more serious side, there is an exception in the world of fondues, it is the fondue fribourgeoise, served just warm, never hot, sometimes simply water and cheese, more often half water, half wine, and using only vacherin fribourgeois as a cheese. It is very good, but often difficult to digest for non-fribourgeois.
The other fondues are based on a variety of cheese mixes, with, as for origin the fondue moitié-moitié (half-half), namely Gruyere and Emmental cheeses. Emmental cheese is the one with the large holes, Gruyere cheese has no holes or only a few very small ones.
The main advantage of this particular fondue is that it is almost fully lactose free, as lactose is a source of digestive problems for some people. However there are other options. Replacing part or whole of the Emmental by Vacherin Fribourgeois, improves the creamy texture and taste, but the Vacherin Fribourgeois not being a hard cheese does contain lactose that can affect sensitive people.
Thus, there is a infinity of cheese fondue recipes, however for me, the best one is of course the one made by my mother. So I asked her for the recipe so that I could provide it to you, and the conversation went along these lines:
- You need wine.
- How much?
- One glass per person.
- Large glass?
- Such as this one? (showing a regular Swiss white wine glass)
- No larger.
The conversation continued on the same model for the other ingredients.
In conclusion, neither me nor you will ever know the real secret of her cheese fondue, which she made essentially by instinct.
The second best fondue, on my fondue scale, is mine. Many people around the world can testify to it and I hope to count you among them soon.
The only rule, which by the way does not only apply to cheese fondue, is that for good food, you need good ingredients!