Topline Trends Tuesday: Fondue

fondueI wish I could tell you how many times I’ve been told by a PR flak that “fondue is back!” (except that they usually say it in capital letters!) Seriously, it must be a claim made at least every two years if not more often. Regrettably, the only thing that usually supports a news flash that fondue is back like it’s 1971 again is that an appliance company has put out a new fondue pot and it’s trying to sell lots of them. Then, some poor, tired and overworked food editor succumbs to these self interested messages and prints a story about how fondue is back in fine form. Bridal magazines are particularly apt to write such stories.

I had long given up on fondue ever really becoming more than a wish as a trend until I was at the IACP Conference in Denver earlier this month and saw Peggy Fallon’s new book: Great Party Fondue. Peggy may just resurrect this trend not because she has great PR folks (although I’m sure she does), but because Peggy actually reinvents fondue in healthy, appealing ways that make even a jaded old naysayer like me want to break out the dipping forks. Many of her recipes are cheesy and traditional but the recipes that could bring fondue pots out of the pantry closet and onto the dining table are her veggie based fondues that basically take the appeal of soup and make it into a concoction you can’t resist dipping into again and again.

When’s the last time you had fondue? Did you make it at home or have it when you were a guest?

22 Responses to Topline Trends Tuesday: Fondue

  1. Peter says:

    My theory is that these PR folk are re-gifting the same fondue set and it keeps making the rounds. I know of NO ONE who’s actually made a fondue for guests.

    I would however bring some food for dipping…a fondue pot-luck?

  2. Rosa says:

    I’ve eaten my last cheese fondue far too long ago (a few months)! I’m not a big fan of the other kind…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  3. cheryl says:

    I made it! I made it! The New York Times (I think) printed a great fondue recipe about two years ago, and I made it for dinner when my family visited. We all loved it.

    But I agree: every two years does not a hot trend make.

  4. I ate fondue at a party a while a go. It makes for a fun but not very satisfying meal. If you have all evening, a bunch of friends and plenty of wine, it’s a great change of pace.

    That said, I don’t think it’s practical enough to be more than a passing fad. Too much prep, too much mess, too long to wait between bites.

    Kudos to Fallon is she can turn fondue into more than a blip in the trend line.

  5. Barb says:

    My sister made one a couple of years ago at Christmas. It was good (I guess) and we all enjoyed it, but Charmaine has a point about it not being all that satisfying. My neice in Boston saved up her money and for a friend’s birthday a group of them went to a fondue restaurant to celebrate. They raved about it and I guess this place is somewhat hard to get into so it has a popularity with Bostonians.

  6. Having work in Gruyères at a hotel where all the guests asked for fondue—which we didn’t serve—I been up close and personal with the genuine article. That and raclette make for a nice high fat meal on a cold evening.

    BTW, have you ever wondered when and where fondue originated? I did and wrote this [http://xrl.us/beprwk] a few years back.

  7. Rebecca says:

    My dad’s a fondue fanatic, so I grew up with fondue. The last time I had it was around Christmas. We tend to eat it as a course, not as the full meal.

    As for the trendiness, fondue pots seem to cycle through, following the same orbit as panini makers, Belgian waffle irons and smoothie machines.

    However, I’m definitely curious about the veggie-based fondues. I’ve always thought the real downfall of fondue was that it depended on ridiculously unhealthy combinations.

  8. oil is gross and messy, broth is meh…i could take it or leave it…but melt peanut butter and i’d dip just about anything in it…dessert fondue will make a comeback, as a kind of doi-it-yourself small dessert bite.

  9. danamccauley says:

    Great comments gang! Peter, I’ll read your fondue article this evening with my after dinner cup of tea.

    Jill, I agree that dessert fondues are trendy but I really don’t like those terrible chocolate fondue fountains that are so oil laden and use such lack lustre chocolate. I actually have seen people buying the kits for home use and it makes my nervous for their health.

  10. PeggyFallon says:

    Hey everyone…lighten up! (both literally and figuratively :o)The book is called Great Party Fondues because a-bubbling-pot-of-something-delicious is a great way to entertain. The prep is minimal, and once it is served, the host’s work is done, so he/she can spend the remainder of the evening having as much fun as the guests. Fondue forces us to slow down the pace, and promotes conversation as people huddle around the pot. It can be a meal–and I do offer ideas for satisfying accompaniments in my book–but I really like to serve fondue as part of an appetizer buffet; and when I do, it is inevitably the most popular station. (Must be something about the lure of the open flame…) Also, today’s enameled cast iron fondue pots are a far cry from the flimsy little metal pots of yesteryear. And they come in much nicer colors than harvest gold and avocado green:o) Everything worthwhile deserves to be recycled…and that includes ideas.(Dana: I agree that chocolate fountains have peaked and are now on the decline…thank goodness. Adding vegetable oil to bad chocolate to “make it flow” is never a good idea!)

  11. Debbi Dubbs says:

    Personally, I love fondue and have tried to resurrect it many times in my cooking classes without much success. So I’m content to enjoy it myself with close friends who know how to have fun with food!

  12. Heather says:

    I’ve only had fondue a few times, and only ever chocolate. I enjoyed it, and have wanted to try other fondue options for years, but have never gotten around to even purchasing a fondue pot. I think that it would be a fun meal with my kids, as they’d be more in control of their meal, and I think that they’d LOVE it! BTW there is a recently opened fondue restaraunt in town, and I’m looking forward to having the time to check it out soon.

  13. Cheryl A says:

    I completely agree with Peggy’s comments about fondue invited conversation and interaction. Sure, when I get together with friends there is no shortage of stuff to talk about, but a fondue party is great for new interactions. Note: I said fondue party, not key party!

    We went to a fondue party … Oh, I guess it was last spring, but we still talk about it. With the kids growing up I can see this being a fun way to entertain with friends and their kids.

  14. danamccauley says:

    Peggy, thanks for popping in! I encourage everyone who has commented (I’m looking directly at you Heather!) to check out Peggy’s book -it really a great value.

  15. adrian says:

    Dana,I’ve always enjoyed (and often quoted) your anti-fondue rants over the years, so if this new book impressed even you, it must be interesting. Will now approach cautiously.

  16. PeggyFallon says:

    Thanks for keeping an open mind! I’m really not trying to set the world on fire (yuk yuk) I just think fondue is an easy way to prepare something that tastes good; and that it’s something your friends will probably enjoy. Warm food is the best comfort food. (well, except for ice cream.)

  17. Andrea says:

    We happen to enjoy fondue and make it regularly, so I guess I’m out of fashion.🙂 We only make one course of fondue, not the whole meal. I’m not keen on oil fondues, so for meat we use a veg broth with fresh herbs, and for desserts we use good chocolate or fresh fruit and wine. For New Year’s we made Peggy’s spiked fondue with orange and cranberries and dipped panettone. It was delicious.

  18. Peggy Fallon wrote: “Fondue forces us to slow down the pace, and promotes conversation as people huddle around the pot.”

    That may be true, but there are other ways that work as well. In my case, a typical meal for company consists of three to four courses and lasts three to four hours. There’s always lots of conversation, even among the teetotalers.

    I reserve fondue for shorter, intimate meals for my wife and myself.

  19. Amy Snider says:

    I had my first oil fondue recently as my fiance and his family got together for a Valentine’s weekend supper. I too prefer the broth fondues over oil – I like the idea of having soup once all the dipping is done. But, who can beat a yummy cheese fondu as a treat – like the beer and cheddar concoction that we had at the IACP event in the winter.

  20. Natashya says:

    We fondue for New Year’s Eve every year, I love it. Really we should do it more often. I like to do the broth and oil sometimes too, but cheese will always be my fave.

  21. JK Fowler says:

    Hi there. Thought you might like this: http://jkfowler.com/2009/11/05/fondue/ . Cheers, JK

  22. PeggyFallon says:

    Fondue as a verb…and then as an act of God. (sigh)Why didn’t I think of that? :o) Thanks for your beautiful words and images, JK. That Turner is one lucky dog.

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