A Midwesterner’s View of Fondue

My hubby and I drove down several weeks ago to help our daughter celebrate her birthday belatedly. Laura and her husband live and work near Washington, DC so they have had a chance to try out lots of neat little restaurants. We told her to pick a place she’d like and we’d all go there for dinner. She chose a restaurant that serves everything in a fondue pot.

The last time I had fondue was almost 40 years ago in Switzerland. I remember that it involved a lot of bread and cheese. This was nothing like I remember it. You had to pick out what sauce and seasoning you wanted to have your food cooked in and then the meal was brought out in stages……appetizers, then the meats, and finally, dessert.

Now I’m from the Midwest. Like most folks from the Great Plains of Minnesota, we like our food recognizable, reasonable, and in abundance. Oh, and a BIG helping of dessert at the end of a meal will really sweeten the deal. But the meal we had this time was one of those East Coast “artsy-smartsy” meals.

The buxom waitress was all dressed up for Halloween in a Little Red Riding Hood outfit that was so low cut that every time she came by to check on us, I kept thinking I should order a glass of milk. Once I got past that distraction, I turned my attention to the plate of appetizers that she set before us. It consisted of some mushroom caps, slivers of carrots, several broccoli and cauliflower tops, and some cubed potatoes. There wasn’t a fried mozzarella stick in sight.

Following my daughter and son-in-law’s lead, my husband and I stuck a veggie on little skewers and put them in the fondue pot. Then we sat and watched them …..and watched them. After several minutes of this, we wrested the skewers out which was like playing pick-up-sticks because they were all tangled together. Once we got out our veggie, we had our choice of sauce to dip it in and then “chomp”…..one bite and the morsel was gone. Okey Dokey! Back to skewering and waiting. Occasionally we’d have to fish a vegetable out of the pot with a slotted spoon when our skewers got so tangled that food would pop off the ends.

Next course was the meat. Each couple received about 6 shrimp, a tiny mound of cubed raw beef and a similar amount of cubed chicken. The procedure was the same but the wait was longer. I found if I really nibbled, I could get about 3 little bites out of each piece of meat. That killed about 10 seconds of the 5 minute wait time between dunking the meat in the pot and pulling it back out.

By the time the waitress came around with a clean pot and the chocolate for our dessert fondue, I was contemplating running next door to the drugstore for a candy bar to tide me over. Our plate this time consisted of two quarter size squares of brownies, a one-inch sliver of cheesecake, 4 or 5 strawberries and a pair of one-inch squares of pound cake. I took one look at the plate and SERIOUSLY considered asking the waitress for a big spoon and a hot pad holder so I could just eat the chocolate out of the pot. It hardly seemed worth skewering and dipping.

My daughter and son-in-law loved the meal. What there was of it was tasty enough. However, I think you have to be young to fully enjoy such a thing. Was it worth the almost $100 per couple? Let’s just say that at my age and for that price, we’d better be talking a buffet with a pretty spectacular dessert table. There’s a reason why buffets are popular with “seasoned citizens.” We know that life is too short not to “go for the gusto.”


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