We are ever so close to December 21, the longest night of the year. MFK Fisher wrote, “It seems very strange to try to remember the best meal of my whole life, especially one that I ate in the winter. Of course winter, I think, is better than summer for eating. In summer one picks growing beauties, beans and tomatoes and suchlike; there are all kinds of delicious fruits. But in winter one thinks a bit more about where and what and how to eat.” (MFK Fisher, Here Let Us Feast: A Book of Banquets)
My most memorable winter meal was fondue in Zurich, Switzerland. After working for a couple months in Germany, my husband and I were happy to be finally together again. I stayed in the states to work on my Masters while he ate blood sausage, drank Weiss Bier and worked.
We celebrated Thanksgiving that year in Zurich eating fondue. Bucking all traditions, a tradition in and of itself for me, I relished the idea of being in a different country creating traditions all our own. The weather was bitter cold. I was bundled in my fluffy brightly colored scarf, bright red rain coat and boots. Stefan wore something similarly bright. We passed on the black hip outfits that most Europeans were sporting. We walked into the fondue restaurant. It was dark and eerily comfortable. Old paintings hung on the dark wood walls with chunky chandeliers hanging from the ceiling at each of the tables.
I had never eaten fondue. The word “fondue” conjured up images of 1960s yellow pots with little metal skewers to stab the bread into the cheese. The name ‘fondue’ actually refers to the metal vessel in which the cheese is melted and the fondue is prepared before being served. We dipped thinly sliced meat in hot broth and mounds of white crusty bread in molten cheese. We drank white wine and happily talked to only each other.
As we bundled up to venture into the snow, the Zurich streets were silent. Lights lined the streets and we peered into closed store front windows. We laughed and took photos when we looked up to see a “Schmuck” sign. Schmuck apparently means “jewelry” in German. The sign was at a jewelry and watch store. We found a pay phone to call friends back home and wandered the quiet streets, our bellies full of fondue.
What is your most memorable winter meal?