For much of the sixties and seventies fondue sets were de rigueur for wedding gift tables and many a young bride found herself in possession of not just one but several sets – burnt orange, deep avocado or mellow yellow. Fondue parties were all the rage – paper tablecloths and polyester bat sleeves went up in flames in restaurants and at dining tables across the country. By the mid-eighties, the novelty had worn thin and fondue sets not relegated to the junk pile in the attic were appearing at yard sales. I recall my husband using one of the long slender fondue forks from our wedding set to reach down to the bottom of the olive jar for his martini garnish. Make mine a double darling. Very useful indeed, he said.
Over time our lives got so busy we could barely make time to peel an onion. Setting a table and making all the detailed preparations for fondue lost its appeal. The culinary renaissance we’re seeing today, particularly among the lost children of the kitchen is welcoming the fondue with new and wonderful twists beyond the traditions of the classic Swiss. Gathering around a small pot of hot cheesy goodness, bubbling oil or a rich steaming broth and cooking bits of meat, fish and vegetables forces us to sit and get involved in the preparation of the meal.
If you’re looking to entertain family and friends this holiday season consider a fondue. Put on some groovy tunes, light the candles, and serve up plenty of sparkling wine or apple cider – polyester suits optional.
Here are some great suggestions for a fondue make-over:
Cheese and beer fondue served with crunchy cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, spicy sausages and meatballs (pre-cooked of course) and flat breads or naan
Sunflower oil fondue with marinated lamb kebobs (make sure the kebob can be completely immersed in the oil). Serve with couscous salad, smoked babaganoush and apricot chutney.
Shabo shabo – nori broth with dumplings, bok choy, king oyster mushrooms, shrimp and scallops. Serve with big bowls of steaming rice and your favourite of dipping sauces.
Chocolate or salted caramel fondue: mini rice crispy squares, cookies, sponge cake, and loads of fresh fruit such as banana, apple slices or strawberries and biscotti.
For more fondue recipes, check out my appearance on The Social.