Cheese is one of the world’s most popular foods, and a staple in French as well as Swiss cuisine. Cheese fondue is a well-known and delicious way of enjoying this decadence. Raclette, which is similar to Fondue is a particular specialty of Switzerland.
Fondue is a dish that was invented by the Swiss, and quickly adopted by and perfected by the French. Fondue is the past participle of the French verb “fondre” which means “to melt”, so fondue simply means “melted”.
Fondue is dish made of melted cheese served in a communal pot, that is kept warm over a small flame. Long handled forks are used to dip bread into the melted cheese. The dish is served at the table, and the pot of melted cheese stays on the table for the duration of the meal, and is meant to be lingered over.
Fondue is a mixture of melted cheese, white wine, kirsch and sometimes a bit of corn starch or other thickening agent to assist in achieving a smooth texture. A garlic clove is usually rubbed on the inside of the pot. Mild spices are sometimes added as well. Gruyère or Emmantaler are the types of cheese most frequently used for fondue, but other varieties are acceptable. The Swiss will often make Fondue at home with whatever cheese they happen to have on hand.
Raclette is lesser known, and has the distinction of being both a cheese and a famous dish. Raclette is a medium soft cows milk cheese, similar to the consistency of Brie, and is mostly used for melting. It has a rich, robust flavor with a hint of nutty sweetness that leaves your mouth watering for more. Raclette the dish, involves a table-side grill, where the cheese is melted at the table and used to top bread, meats and vegetables. The Swiss are fastidious about this dish not getting cold, so the table side grill or warmer are vital to this dish.
Raclette is distinct from Fondue in a couple of ways: the type of cheese that is used, and the amount of cheese that is used. Where Fondue involves a great pot where food is dipped into the cheese and completely immersed, Raclette is more of a melted cheese that is spread onto food.
While fondue is a dish that is regularly available throughout the world at a variety of restaurants, Raclette is a dish that is rarely found outside of its Swiss homeland. If you plan to visit Switzerland, Raclette is one dish that you’ll want to be sure to have on your itinerary!