Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fabulous fondue

Australians tend to assume that fondues are 'retro', 'seventies', but in fact though they became popular here in the 70's, they've always been popular in France and continue to be so. The classic fondue is of course not French but Swiss—bread dipped in melted cheese, accompanied by mugs of beer. When we were kids, we had Swiss neighbours across the road from opur house in Sydney and we sometimes went to the Jenatschs' place for the hearty mountain dish(we weren't allowed the beery accompaniment of course!)

But Mum also made the classic French fondue, which has no cheese or bread, but rather very good fillet beef sliced thin and cooked in the fondue pan very quickly in olive oil and eaten on the spot with maybe a dipping sauce of some sort. That's the famous 'Fondue Bourguignonne' and I was always much fonder of that than the cheese one which filled you up too quickly! We loved it—it felt like a kind of camping cooking, only without the flies, and you could choose exactly how much your meat was cooked.
Since then we've made different sorts of fondues ourselves here—delicious fish ones with tuna or salmon or white fish dipped quickly in simmering fish stock, or ginger broth, or any number of possibilities, with dipping sauces ranging from Asian ones to Hollandaise; beef or lamb in oil or a mixture of oil and stock with mint sauce or red currant jelly or mustard or horseradish or just about anything, really! Then there's the gorgeous one we made the other day, with kangaroo dipped in a simmering broth made from a dash of olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped herbs, a splash of red wine, and water. We had two dipping sauces with it: home-made Bearnaise and a Basque sauce called Sakari which we brought back from France(it's made on a basis of capsicums and tomatoes and herbs), some simple vegetables, and a salad. Not only was it delicious, but it also, as my daughter Pippa, who hadn't had a fondue since she left home years ago, commented, 'it reminds you just what fun it is!'

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