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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

The Rules of Fondue

~Saturday, December 11, 2021~

Day 545

If we had to do it over again, we would have done things differently in terms of how much time we allotted to be in California. There’s just too many people to see, too many things we wanted to do on this visit. Coming back to our old “harbor” allows us to see it through a different, more appreciative lens. It’s a very reflective time for us being back and am soooo grateful for what it brought our family all those years. Every walk or outing we do, is a trip down memory lane. But in the big picture, we all grow, some of it uncomfortable, some of it embraceable. Stepping away from what was comforting has made me appreciate what we had that much more and allowed a willingness to accept change. What are your feelings of returning to old places, your old home?

We’ve been soooo looking forward to seeing Jeff’s brother Ken and his wife Birdie. A year is way too long. Today, they’ve carried on the family tradition of hosting a festive holiday fondue party. Ever since Jeff can remember, either his grandparents or his parents threw this amazing gathering during the Holidays, without fail. I say amazing because it was something so foreign to me, never having had this experience before meeting Jeff, but more than anything, I witnessed the fun, the laughter, the conversation that it brought. And it was something that we looked forward to every year. After Jeff’s parents passed away, Jeff and I made sure to continue the “party”. Since we’ve left Napa, now Birdie and Ken have taken it on. So what is so great about the meal itself? There are 2 fondue forks, one for cheese and one for meat and a communal pot of cheese (for the bread) and another of oil (for the meat). The rule is, if your meat or cheese falls off the fork, you must kiss the neighbor to your right. Thankfully, COVID worries eliminated that one. Over the years, we’ve taken the easy route with the pre-packaged Swiss Knight Fondue, but prefer the more involved homemade, decadent version (of course). The homemade version is garlic, Gruyere Cheese, Swiss Cheese (or Emmanteler), white wine, a little cornstarch, lemon juice, Kirsch (a clear colorless brandy), pepper and nutmeg. Then there is the oil (preferably peanut oil with less splatter). Raw chicken and London Broil cubes are placed on a plate, separate from everything else for health reasons, then cooked in the oil. Of course, we’ve all fallen victim to the petrified, burned pieces we’ve forgotten about while carrying on conversations and getting carried away with the fun. And you must have those dipping condiments for your cooked meat……. chopped egg, chopped olives, chopped mushrooms, pickle relish, sour cream with chives, horseradish, hot sauces, dijon mustard and ketchup. Some prefer mixing all these together for a unique experience, others like to keep everything separate. However, there is one tradition that hasn’t been kept up with, and that is the mulled wine drink also known as Feuerzangeenbowle. It is a traditional German alcoholic drink in which a rum soaked sugar cone is set on fire and drips into the mulled wine. You can add ginger, orange and cinnamon sticks for a little extra zing. Maybe we’ll try it again one day since it sounds delicious and beautiful at the same time.

The party was fantastic, and LARGE (around 25 of us)! Family, friends, dogs. It was quite the party. Our son Shane arrived a little later since his best friend Kyle had his college graduation ceremony at UC Davis (Mechanical Engineering). Jeff’s sister Karen and their family couldn’t make it since their middle child Janessa was graduating from Davis as well. 👏👏🎓Yeh, Kyle and Janessa!!!

Since it will be another while till we see Ken and Birdie again, we decided to spend the night along with Birdie’s daughter’s family and carry the fun over to the next day. Oh, did I mention if you’re going to have a fondue affair, be prepared for the aftermath…….

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