A Swiss boy once told my mother that the forfeit for letting a stray crouton fall into the fondue was a kiss, payable immediately to the person on the right.
I would be willing to bet that he was sitting there eagerly, on her right-hand side, maybe even scheming to accidentally knock her bread with one of those skinny little fondue forks.
I like the rule, though it does make dinner more competitive than normal.
I don’t really like fondue. Too clingy, too complicated. An asset for winning kisses, a struggle too eat. The silly forks, the little candle to stop the cheese from congealing into a gelatinous lump.
This is much easier, and much more delicious. Baked cheese, in a box. Mont d’Or more specifically, a cheese that looks like a tubby sort of Camembert but a little more wrinkly, more suntanned. (That’s about as attractive as the pushy Swiss boy, no?) Let’s try again.
Pour a glass of red wine. Heat the oven hot hot hot. Push a clove of garlic into your Mont d’Or cheese and bake it – still in its wooden box, lid off – until it bubbles. You will just have time to boil cute little purple potatoes, chop a few chestnut mushrooms and light some candles. Drink the wine.
When the cheese has liquefied inside, delightfully rich but tangy, break the cratered surface and dip in crusts of bread, corners of potato. Alternate with baby tomatoes and draughts of wine. Try not to burn your fingers, draw out the long strands of melted goodness.
Keep eating until the wooden box has been scraped clean of cheese. Sigh. Blow out the candles.