Ann Mah, Bon Appetit
Like all reasonable human beings, we interpret snowy weather as Mother Nature's subliminal message to do one simple thing: eat cheese fondue. But before you dive into a big gooey pot of, say, this version with Gruyère and Cider, or this version with Champagne, it's worth knowing a bit of fondue etiquette. What, you thought the classic cold-weather dish was easy, casual, straightforward? Remember, fondue hails from Switzerland (and/or France), and -- like most things Swiss and/or French -- it involves some intricate politesse. To avoid forever being labeled uncouth, please follow these rules:
Don't stir counterclockwise: Traditionalists say you must stir clockwise or in a figure-eight pattern to keep the cheese homogenized until you reach the very bottom.
Do twirl, twirl, twirl: Keep the table tidy by twirling those drips, drabs, and flyaway strands of melted cheese around your cube of bread. Please, no tapping, scraping, or -- obviously -- double-dipping, unless you want to give your Swiss host a heart attack. Don't worry, the cheese will take care of that.
Don't drink anything but these 3 beverages: Sip only white wine, kirsch, or a tisane of herbal tea with your fondue meal. According to Swiss lore, any other drink -- be it water, juice, or beer -- will cause the melted cheese to coagulate and form a giant ball in your stomach, leaving you with debilitating indigestion. Yes, it sounds silly, but do you really want to risk it?
Do make some noise: Feel free to scrape, clang, clank, and use whatever means necessary to dislodge the crust of browned cheese at the bottom of your empty fondue pot. Called "la religieuse," the shards of crisped cheese have a toasty crunch and are considered a delicacy.
Don't follow cheese fondue with chocolate fondue: A meal of Switzerland's two most famous food exports seems like an obvious progression, but the two together might send you directly into a cholesterol coma. Instead, end your meal with fresh pineapple: The fruit's acidity is a bright counterpoint to the creamy cheese, while its enzymes help you digest more quickly.