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Swiss fondue 2.jpg
Dipping a cheese fondue with a long-stemmed fork
Place of originFrance, Italy, and Switzerland
Main ingredientsCheeses, white wine, seasoning, garlic, often kirsch

Fondue is a Swiss meal taken in an pot (caquelon) over a small burner (rechaud) by some men and women round a table . The word comes from the French word naming an operation fondre (make liquid by heat).

Long-stemmed forks are used to put bits of food into a warm and liquid sauce. The sauce is warmed by a wax or alcohol burner.

Cheese fondue with bits of bread is most frequent, however there are other sauces and other bits to put in the sauce. Bread, meat or plants are cut into small bits and used.


A great number of men and women believe that fondue is a very old country way to make food of hard cheese and hard bread. Both Swiss and French men and women make fondue from the old time. It is most likely first made in the Jura mountains.

The oldest certain directions for making fondue used eggs and came from Vaud in the early 19th century. A great number of Swiss places and towns came up with very special directions for making fondue based on cheeses, wines and other substances of the town.

Fondue became pleasing to a great number of men and women in the United States through the late 1960s and early 1970s.


A full cheese fondue group in Switzerland.

In addition to the bread and cheese, there are side plates of garlic, pickled cucumber, onions and olives.

To give a special quality of taste, the caquelon is first rubbed with a cut garlic. Wine and cheese are added and heated and moved till they are warm and liquid. A small amount of starch is added to join the substances. Some strong alcohol from cherries is added just before bringing it to the table.

The most common directions use 1 decilitre of dry white wine and 200 grams of cheese for every man and woman. The cheese is a mix of hard cheese (such as Gruyère) and semi-hard (such as Emmental cheese).

Temperature and La Religieuse

A cheese fondue would be kept at a temperature warm enough to keep the fondue smooth and liquid but not at a great heat to cause burning.

If the temperature is good, there will be a thin hard cover of toasted (not burnt) cheese at the lowest part of the caquelon.

This is the la religieuse (French for the nun). It has the structure of a thin cracker and is lifted out and every man and woman is given a bit. In Switzerland sometimes boys and girls fight over the burnt cheese at the lowest part of the caquelon.

Other fondues

A Fondue Bourguignonne: At top is a pot of oil for quickly cooking the meat, at middle a caquelon for a further cheese fondue and at lowest more sauces.

Fondue Bourguignonne is named after Burgundy in France. Fondue Bourguignonne uses a pot of heated oil to cook. Bits of meat are put into the oil to quickly cook them. A number of sauces are made ready on the side. The earliest statements of this dish seem to have been made in the 1950s.[1]

Fondue Chinoise uses a pot of heated liquid to cook. Thin bits of meat (often beef) are put into a very warm thin meat soup. As with a Fondue Bourguignonne, a number of sauces are made ready on the side. At the end of the meal, the liquid from the pot is drunk as a thick soup.

Chocolate Fondue was first made in the 1960s.[2] Slices of fruit or cake are put in a pot of warm, liquid chocolate.

Good behavior

It would not be good to touch the fork with your tongue, because the fork will go back into the common pot. At a meat fondue, one uses a second fork to take meat off the fork that goes into the common pot.

In Switzerland what has been done for a long time, is that if a bit of bread is lost in the cheese by a man, he gives money for a bottle of wine. If it is lost by a woman, she kisses the man at her left.[3][4]

References and notes

  1. In Google Books the term Fondue Bourguignonne is first used in a book from 1957. In Google News the earliest reference is one from 1958.
  2. The History of Chocolate Fondue
  3. Fondue 101 Guide
  4. "How to have a fondue party"

Other websites