There's a saying in our house that comes from a '70s-era cookbook: "Your party's a success the moment you decide to serve fondue." It's because sitting around a pot of bubbling cheese with long double-pronged spears makes eating an intimate event. According to my favorite fondue cookbook, there's a Swiss tradition that ladies who drop their bread in the pot must kiss the nearest man, while the man who drops his bread must buy the wine. And of course, there's the fact that cheese + bread = deliciousness. It's obviously not super healthy, so we restrict this indulgence to Christmastime.
Ever since the time Chris and I consumed an entire pound of cheese fondue on our own one Christmas Eve night, we try to invite people to join us when we have fondue. And with apologies to the many well-meaning friends and relatives who have gifted fondue cookbooks over the years, we only use this one classic recipe from the 1968 Nitty Gritty Fondue Cookbook:
Cut up 1/2 lb. each of Emmenthaler and Gruyere into tiny cubes. Rub fondue pot with the cut side of a clove of garlic and discard. Put 2 cups dry white wine into pot and when it's hot add a tablespoon lemon juice. Toss cheese with 2 tablespoons flour and gradually add to the pot, stirring constantly. Add 3 tablespoons Kirsch, a dash of nutmeg and paprika, and you're ready to dip your bread cubes.
Last night we had chocolate fondue after the cheese to make it even more caloric, with strawberries, bananas, grapes, and marshmallows for dipping. For the kids, this was definitely the high point of the meal.