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Swiss Seek to Settle Debate Over the True Fondue

Swiss Seek to Settle Debate Over the True Fondue

Eliane Engeler | Associated Press Writer

GENEVA-It’s dinnertime and farmers are dipping bread cubes into a molten pot of melted cheese, an image of Switzerland’s rustic mountainsides and garrets as iconic as Heidi at her chalet or men in embroidered vests playing 10-foot-long (3.05-meter-long) Alphorns.

The classic fondue is still a mainstay of the Swiss diet, and good fondues can be ordered in restaurants around the country. But recipes vary greatly across regions. A new, national cookbook published with the help of Switzerland’s government tourism agency aims to settle the debate with the authentic recipe of cheeses and alcohols.

It says that only Vacherin and Gruyere cheeses mixed with Fendant wine and a dash of kirsch (cherry) schnapps make for the true fondue. The book also offers dozens of other recipes for relatively simple but delicious Swiss dishes.

“The question as to the right cheese mix for a fondue divides the country,” according to “The Swiss Cookbook.”

But the book claims its recipe is the undeniable classic, and Swiss restaurateurs seem to agree.

“That’s what people like most,” said Manuela Rossberg, of the Fondue House in Lucerne.

Switzerland was until modern times a poorer, peasant society, with a diet that lacked the sophistication of French cuisine or the fresh produce available in southern Europe. But the scarcity led to a variety of dishes making use of what the country has always been rich in: beef and dairy.

The cookbook tells you how to make over 140 national dishes, and those like the melted creamy cheese “raclette” or the mythical pancake-like potato “roesti” have changed little over the centuries. Also offered are desserts of rich Swiss chocolate and step-by-step instructions to prepare tennis star Roger Federer’s favorite meal: Zurich-style ragout.