Considered a classic Swiss recipe, Cheese fondue is the one the Swiss swear by. In fact it is considered as a symbol of Swiss unity. But do you know this national dish of Switzerland is also an Italian and French dish that has its fan following across the world. Swiss Cheese Union had a measure role in promoting it as the national dish back in the 1930s, and was instrumental in popularising it in North America.

‘Fondue’ is traditionally a dish of melted cheese served in a communal pot (caquelon or fondue pot). The term itself is French derived from the word ‘fondre’ - a verb meaning ‘to melt’. They call it 'la fondue' in Switzerland which means a ‘cheese fondue’ and nothing else and it is always served as the main dish, not an appetiser or as part of a multicourse meal. And it's perfect for chilly winter evenings.

Contrary to popular view outside of Switzerland, Fondue did not originate as an après-ski snack. This traditional Swiss dish had its origin in the Alps, mainly in and around the canton of Valais (in French) / Wallis (in German). It evolved from hearty peasant dish that used ingredients that were available in the winter like cheese, wine and coarse peasant bread. Since it was a traditional dish, it never went 'out of fashion' or 'died out' in Switzerland unlike the ‘Great Fondue Craze’ in UK or the US of 1970s when a fondue set used to be a ubiquitous wedding present. Actually the introduction of cornstarch (maïzena) to Switzerland in 1905 made it easier to make a smooth and stable emulsion of the wine and cheese, and contributed to the popularity of Fondue.

Other types of dip-bits-of-food-in-a-communal-pot dishes are specifically called Fondue-something, e.g. Fondue Bourguignonne (with bits of beef fillet fried in a pot of oil), Fondue Chinoise (thin slices of beef or other things cooked in a pot of broth), and Chocolate Fondue. Konrad Egli, a Swiss restaurateur in USA is credited to have introduced these new variants in 1950s/60s. You might be surprised to know that chocolate fondue isn't that popular in Switzerland. It may be served at touristy restaurants, but is not a home cooking fixture by any means.

"La fondue crée la bonne humeur" - a popular slogan from the time of aggressive promotion of Fondue in Switzerland has stayed in the popular imagination. It means "fondue creates a good mood". So keep your fondue forks ready for your dip of good mood. Relish this at ITC Maurya all through January and keep spreading the warmth.