Just Another Cheesy Fad? Fondue Makes a Comeback
So there you are at a dinner party.
The crowd is sharp, the charcuterie is local, the cocktails hit all the right notes with their craft bitters and small-batch whiskeys, and there's a docked iPod playing the latest buzzed-about band from SXSW. Dinner is served. It's fondue?!
Image: Fondue photo via Shutterstock
That relic of the 1970s that you thought had gone the way of streakers and shiny polyester shirts. It's like a flashback to a decade that most food lovers would rather forget. While the roots of a new cuisine were sprouting in a handful of restaurant kitchens in places like New York and Berkeley, for most Americans, a Tequila Sunrise and water chestnut rumaki were the height of sophistication.
You're not sure how you should respond.
You could laugh and say something clever about postmodernism. Treat it like an inside joke that you are hip enough to be in on, because you know that no self-respecting foodie would serve fondue without a side of irony.
Maybe it's supposed to evoke loving nostalgia.
You could say how much you enjoyed Argo and that Ben Affleck was robbed by the Academy. Maybe share a childhood memory of spying on your parents' cocktail party with its highballs and mini quiches and your mother presiding over it all in her elegant palazzo pants.
Or you could enjoy cheese fondue at its face value.
It's not tough to do. The cheeses available are a lot better this time around. The bread too.
So many people are rediscovering the pleasures of fondue that we have the makings of a full-fledged revival.
Vintage fondue pots are a hot commodity on sites like Etsy and eBay. Roshco, one of the largest brands of fondue sets, saw sales increase by 40 percent last year, and expects to see another 50 percent rise in 2013. The wedding and gift registry site TheKnot.com is rushing to expand its assortment now that fondue pots are among its top selling items. And the media (yes, all of us) are having a field day with punny headlines about "dipping into" the latest "cheesy" fad.
Fondue pots for the 21st century
Sterno's gone green with plant-based biofuel and zero carbon emissions; otherwise there's not much that's different this time around. A fondue set is still just a vessel over a heat source. Here are a few modern twists:
Cuisinart makes a most undemanding fondue set. It's an electric cheese melter that rotates on a lazy Susan. It even goes in the dishwasher.
The world's first desktop fondue set warms your lunchtime fondue by tapping into a computer's power supply with a fireglow USB cable.
We think of fondue as a communal dish, but you can go solo with a fondue mug for one.
As seen on TV: the NuWave induction cooktop comes with a fondue set. It heats fondue by generating a magnetic field that warms the pot while the heating element stays cool.
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