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More Chinese saying 'cheese' for cool-weather fondue

By Liu Zhihua | China Daily | Updated: 2015-10-13 08:44

More Chinese saying 'cheese' for cool-weather fondue

Cheese fondue is getting popular with Chinese diners. Photo provided to China Daily

As autumn temperatures drop, the Chinese like to pamper themselves with hotpot to escape the chill.

In recent years, cheese fondue, a tradition from Switzerland of dipping bread and other foods in melted cheese, has become popular in Beijing, as more and more Chinese are falling for the delicious dish.

"In Switzerland, 'fondue' just means cheese fondue. It is the country's signature dish, like Peking duck (for China)," says Wang Wen'ge, executive chef with Cafe Swiss at Swissotel Beijing.

"Cheese fondue now is not so common in Beijing as in Switzerland, but is increasingly loved by Chinese people and expats."

Cheese fondue is similar to Chinese hotpot, but with a much simpler set of foods to dip into the pot, including bread and baby potatoes, he says.

The chef uses Emmental and Gruyere to make cheese fondue. The cheeses are among Switzerland's most expensive ones. After grating the cheeses, he tosses them into a pot that has been rubbed with garlic, and heats them with white wine and garlic. He stirs until the cheese melts, and then adds powdered red pepper and ground nutmeg, sometimes followed by grappa wine.

When the hotel cafe started to highlight cheese fondue on its menu in the 1990s - one of the earliest eateries providing cheese fondue in Beijing-the customers ordering the dish usually were Westerners, but now half of them are Chinese, according to Ye Si, marketing executive with the hotel.

Chef Wang, who has been working in the hotel since 1991 and witnessed the change, says many Chinese families now choose to spend a winter night in the cafe, enjoying cheese fondue.

The dish is very nutritious and good for warming up the body, the chef says, noting that he can eat cheese fondue on a winter day and then venture out into the chill for awhile only in short sleeves.

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