I’ll spear you the suspense and get right to the point: April 11th is National Cheese Fondue Day!
Fondue originated in Switzerland as a method of using up hard cheese. One can only have so many paperweights, you know? It comes from the French word fondre, which means “to melt.” OK, logical enough. It was a traditional peasant dish, made with white wine and served in a communal pot; stale bread is most often used for dipping. Stale bread and old, hard cheese, eh? Those Swiss really knew hot to stretch leftovers. Fondue really took off in the 1950s when Konrad Egli introduced it at his Chalet Suisse restaurant in New York. We’ve discussed him before; he’s the dude who invented chocolate fondue as a promotion for Toblerone. Before long, every bell-bottom and polyester-clad cook in the 1970s was serving fondue; it’s as much a symbol of that decade as disco, Watergate, and Farrah Fawcett. It remains popular in Switzerland, too, where it is a symbol of Swiss unity; the Swiss Cheese Union promotes it aggressively with marketing campaigns featuring slogans like Fondue isch guet und git e gueti Luune – “fondue is good and creates a good mood.”
I happen to agree. Fondue IS good and it DOES create a good mood. Tara and I met for lunch at Gustav’s, a German restaurant down the street, midway between where we both work. It doesn’t get more convenient than that. This is the second food holiday we have celebrated here; we also had the fondue for National Cheese Lover’s Day. What can I say? Their fondue is really good! And I’m thinking Tara and I need to break down and buy our own fondue set already. Hey…maybe we’ll get one as a wedding gift!
When the check arrived, I asked our waiter if he knew it was National Cheese Fondue Day, and he had no idea. Then he said, “The cheese fondue is our most popular dish…this would be a great marketing idea!”
Yeah. No kidding. It still amazes me how rarely people in the food business realize when there’s a food holiday celebrating a dish they are known for. Talk about a lot of missed marketing opportunities. Maybe I should consider becoming a food consultant or something…
- We’re Celebrating The Cheesiest Day in America….National Cheese Fondue Day! (rossiclassblog.wordpress.com)
- Fondue Date Night (cookingwithanne.com)