Hermann Wipf, transcribed from oral tradition ca. 1940 [history]
|Garlic, finely chopped
||A generous heaping tablespoon
|Dry, slightly acid (not sweet!) white wine (Chablis, Riesling)
||Fill the pot about a quarter, add more when some boils away while shredding the cheese
||3/4 dL (1/3 cup) per person
||3–4 hearty shakes
||3–4 hearty shakes
||Typically omit, but worth a try
||A good pinch according to number of persons
||A generous 2 shakes
||Very little (approx. 1 knifepoint)
|Emmentaler and Gruyère cheese (about half and half)
||2 lb, shredded in food processor
||150–200 g (1/3 to 1/2 lb) per person, according to appetite, grated or finely chopped
||2 tablespoons cornstarch
||1 tablespoon potato starch
||Enough to dissolve the cornstarch, but then take the bottle to the table
||1/2 dl (1/4 cup), but then take the bottle to the table
|Bread, good crusty bread like a French baguette, cut into one-inch cubes; each piece must have some crust for the fork to grip.
||As much as you think you'll need plus a spare loaf
||According to appetite and number of persons
- A caquelon3
- An alcohol burner with a frame to support the caquelon
- A long-handled fondue fork for each diner
- Place garlic, spices and wine into caquelon and stir while heating.
- Add cheese and heat close to boiling, stirring as needed.
- Meanwhile, dissolve starch in Kirsch, then add to cheese mixture.
- When well-mixed and boiling again, transfer to spirit burner and serve. Each guest starts with a plateful of bread cubes, a shot of Kirsch and a glass of white wine.4 A side dish, typically a tangy salad, is optional, but thanks to our friend and neighbor Betsea we now know that fresh cucumbers, sliced lengthwise with some salt and pepper, complement the fondue beautifully.
- Suzanne's Quantities. Many of the ingredients, per the original recipe, are given as "per person" but Suzanne, who has been serving this fondue over twenty years, finds it simpler to make multiples of six-person quantities. Less fiddly, the fondue doesn't run out before the diners' appetites, and we usually have enough left over to make a wonderful tuna-noodle casserole.
- Kirsch. Not to be confused with "cherry liqueur" which appears to be spirits with sweet cherry flavor added, Kirsch aka Kirschwasser is actually distilled from cherries and is not at all sweet. It can be hard to find, but there's really no substitute for a fondue. For decades, the only way I could get my hands on real Kirsch was when loving relatives brought me a bottle from Switzerland. I'm happy to say I can now find Kirsch in some of the fancier wine and spirits stores. I've found many good German and French versions and even one made in Connecticut. In recent years, I've even found Swiss Kirsch (the best is from Zug or Basel), albeit at a luxury price.
The Caquelon. This is the traditional fondue pot, a one-handled cooking vessel looking something like a large, wide saucepan. Originally of earthenware, now also available in stoneware, ceramic, enamelled cast iron or porcelain. Requirements:
With earthenware caquelons we have had trouble avoiding hot spots that can burn the fondue, so we use the enameled cast iron "Le Creuset" models.
- Size: big enough to hold it all, wide enough for all the guests' forks
- Smooth lining that can withstand scraping from steel forks
- Thick bottom to spread out the heat from the burner
- Attractive appearance, as befits the centerpiece of the party
- Drink. A fondue can make you thirsty, but avoid drinking a big glass of cold water! While claims of serious digestive consequences are likely exaggerated, a congealed ball of cheese in your stomach will make your sleep restless and give you strange dreams. A shot of Kirsch and a glass of wine will keep your whistle wet, as will hot tea. Of course, you can always have that big glass of water before the meal.