How to Eat Fondue Like a Local
June 26, 2017
After spending a day turning curves on fresh powder in the snow-covered Alps, gathering with friends around a bubbling pot of fondue while sipping a glass of delicious white wine around a roaring fireplace is the ultimate après ski. Fondue is a favourite alpine dish for many skiers.
After all, who doesn’t like cheese? But, eating fondue can be a messy experience if you don’t follow the rules so we’ve put together a guide to help you eat fondue like a real local.
The Brief History of Fondue
Most Brits think that fondue is French. And the French will tell you it is, too. But, there is a longstanding debate over who invented fondue.
Was it the French or the Swiss?
The first mention of fondue dates back to Homer’s Iliad around 800 BC where there was a mention of a mixture of goat’s cheese, wine, and flour.
It wasn’t until the late 17th century when a more modern version of fondue, made from cheese and wine, appeared in a Swiss cookbook.
The modern version of fondue – the one you cook over an open flame – dates back to the late 1800s in the French Rhone-Alpes region. In 1930, the Swiss Cheese Union declared fondue to be the national dish of Switzerland.
Despite fondue’s mysterious origins, it’s a very popular dish in both the Alps region of France and Switzerland. They even serve it in Courmayeur in Italy (which used to be part of the old Savoie).
Types of Fondue
There are two different types of fondue depending where you are in the Alps region.
Swiss style fondue uses either Gruyere or Emmenthal cheese while French style fondue uses either French Emmenthal or Comte cheeses.
The cheeses might be slightly different, but the recipe is essentially the same – just add cheese, white wine, some spices, and a little flour. And voila! You now have delicious fondue to dip your baguette into while sipping a glass of chilled white wine.
Tips on How to Eat Fondue
Locals love their fondue. Despite just being a casual meal of melted cheese and wine, fondue has a surprising number of rules. And you certainly don’t want to insult the locals by eating fondue the wrong way!
So, to help you fit in with the locals, here are our Top 5 “fondue’s and don’ts:”
- 1. Stir clockwise or in a figure-eight pattern to help keep the cheese homogenised all the way to the bottom of the pot.
- 2. Keep your plate and table clean by twirling the cheese around your bread before bringing it to your mouth.
- 3. No double-dipping (Eww!) and always make sure your bread is securely on your fork – losing it in the pot is definitely not the done thing and can lead to forfeits, depending on the company you are keeping.
- 4. Use the special fondue fork and make sure you remember which one is yours. To remove the bread from this oddly shaped fork, use your front teeth only. Your lips and your tongue should never touch the tines.
- 5. Sip only white wine, kirsh, or an herbal tisane with your fondue. Water, juice, or beer will cause the melted cheese to form a giant ball in your stomach. People do often add an extra shot or two of kirsh directly to the pot, particularly as you get towards the bottom.
A note from Amin: “I know locals consider it sacrilege but I personally prefer a medium bodied red with my cheese fondue. I also like having a simple green salad with it to give it the contrast in flavour as gherkins do with raclette. Most reputable restaurants should bring you a green salad.”
Our Favourite Places for Fondue in the Alps
Fondue can be found in almost every alpine restaurant in the French and Swiss alps.
We love the Alpenclub in Engelberg for great fondue. The restaurant has a separate room specifically for this speciality which is rustic and cosy and the food is hearty and delicious.
People come from near and far to eat just their fondue. The menu has several Swiss fondue varieties or you can even try the Chinese fondue with beef or chicken if you want to indulge in something a little different.
The Chetzeron restaurant in Crans Montana offers another scrumptious fondue variety worth trying. We recommend grabbing a table near the roaring fireplace or on the terrace for panoramic views of the mountains.
The fondue au Champagne is a company favourite. And, you can’t beat the wine list at Chetzeron! Fondue is a social meal so anywhere is great with the right group of people.
Amin’s personal favourite: “I think that the best spot in town is the Dent Blanche!”
If you prefer it the French way, how about La Chamade in Morzine for traditional food in a modern industrial styled setting. Cheese is their thing. So much so they have even a specialist cheese bar and of course great fondue. And of course the uber trendy spot is the Fondue Factory in Val d’Isere. A museum of skiing turned into a modern canteen style tables and cool ambience.
Ready to Tuck In?
Fondue, whether Swiss or French, is a delicious treat after a long day of skiing. You’ll find fondue on the menu in restaurants across the French and Swiss Alps. With these “fondue’s and don’ts” you’ll eat fondue like a pro.
If you’d like to experience some authentic fondue, as well as some fantastic skiing, why not contact us today to book your next winter holiday?