To learn more about why I'm writing this new blog series, and my inspiration for writing it, READ THIS.
American popular culture has always been, and will probably always be, super-eclectic. Our way of life is a by-product of congealing many different origins together with a zeal for trying new things. Somewhere along the way, things merge, stand out, and then sometimes fade into the ether. Yes, we can be a fickle people, but experimentation is one of the things Americans do best.
In my brief time on this planet, I’ve seen some interesting trends wheedling their way into our lives. Some held on strongly and are still with us, others went quietly into obscurity, only to be resurrected in our conversations at late night parties filled with ‘remember when’ laughter. Some made sense to me, others didn’t.
CB (citizen’s band) radios gave us all secret agent nicknames and an excuse to use them. Blacklights and weird posters adorned our walls and made our parents question our sanity, even though most of us were stone sober and just enjoyed the stark contrast from the fluorescent lights of the classroom. Heavy metal music is still around. I know people who still have waterbeds (although now they claim it’s purely for back support). Though few may admit it, tons of people kept their pet rocks simply because of the emotional attachment… you never destroy or throw away something you name, right? We only wish that mood rings were scientific tools that helped us understand each other (wouldn’t that make international trade summits and intimate relationships easier). I don’t think blue jeans will ever evaporate from our stores, and if I’m being completely honest, there’s still a part of me that would love to be able to wear corduroy again without the evil stares – it’s remarkable as armor against the wind in winter.
Cheese fondue is one of those things that was exploited as pure frivolity at parties, slunk back into the shadows for a time, and now has returned as an entertaining ‘novelty’ once again. I was one of the loyal few who never forgot, and never gave up on the pot of melty goodness. Turning away from a warm, bubbly pot of perfection because it’s no longer what the ‘cool kids’ do is a little blasphemous, if you ask me. Cheese, after all, is one of the major food groups and a spiritual totem. Not only that, cheese fondue is tremendously faithful, it will never let you down, no matter what your mood ring predicts or expects of you.
You can be a purist, doing the classic recipe, and only dip bread. That’s the conservative approach – nothing wrong with that. Or you can mix several different cheese varieties of cheese, add a little bit of white wine and garlic, and you’ve got instant pizzaz on a skewer. If you want to make yourself feel better about your indulgence, dip carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and pre-cooked meat like shrimp, chicken, steak, or ham… and wowzah! You’ve just made the best version of an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich with vegetables… and you have only one pot to wash (and perhaps a wine glass and a couple skewers).
My pot is electric and non-stick, which means I don’t have to fight to keep those tiny Bunsen burners lit, and clean-up is super simple and quick. This one item has brought me such tremendous joy, I don't regret one penny spent to make it a permanent part of my kitchen. To make everything REALLY easy, my local grocery store stocks pre-combined cheeses in both shredded (just add wine and stir) or refrigerated fondue envelopes (nothing to do but melt). Oh, and they freeze well, so I always have an emergency fondue in the freezer... just in case.
Cheese fondue is a nice way to start a party… keep the party going… share in quiet conversation with a good friend… or enjoy a pot alone while watching a favorite TV program, film, or game. It’s a low maintenance, effortless addition to any day of the week… no excuses needed.
Still, if you need an excuse, The Melting Pot restaurant is a spectacular place to find fondue and treat yourself to the extravagance of a full meal of cheese, oil, and of course, chocolate fondue. Salad is also included in the meal, and that’s great, but personally, I want to save more room for cheese. The Melting Pot has many locations around the country (no, I’m not a paid affiliate – I just really love this place).
Whether as the starter to a fun party, a wonderful way to share conversation and catch up with friends I haven’t seen in a while, or just by myself to make me smile, Cheese Fondue is one of the Things That Makes Life Worth Living.
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