When Chinese Food is not Chinese

This is not Fondue Chinoise. It is just a stock photo from the web that I am using because I don't yet have a photo of the fondue in question.

The words “fondue chinoise” have appeared in numerous restaurant windows, causing us to ruminate on the multiculturalism of the Swiss.

Not only do they have four official languages, they also embrace Chinese cuisine in the form of some kind of fondue.

Turns out we were wrong about that: Daniela, our ever-helpful and apparently omniscient* front desk gal, explained that these signs appear to advertise Chinese fondue, but it is in fact a Christmas fondue of thinly sliced meats. There’s nothing Chinese about it.

This will surprise the Québécois who use exactly this term for Chinese fondue, but then they’re not here, so maybe it doesn’t matter.

This fondue is the grand culinary showcase at the Swiss’ Christmas dinner. Daniela says it is preferable to a giant turkey, because diners have to spend a lot of time cooking their meat at the table, forcing them to converse with other guests and relatives.

She did not use the word “forcing.” I did.

The prospect of staring at one’s relatives over an open flame and pot of boiling oil, each guest armed with their own 12″ two-pronged stabbing implement, seems to be exactly the type of scenario that could lead to serious injury, death and perhaps a visit from a SWAT team.

Better to have a 25-lb. turkey on the table. It’s very hard to achieve lift when trying to chuck one of those at my brothers, not that I’ve ever tried that.


* I don’t actually think Daniela is omniscient, but her manager suspects she might be owing to a recent exchange we had in his presence.

I was passing the front desk and said, “Oh Daniela, that ….” then  I ‘drew’ a little square in the air with my fingers.

Daniela said, “Of course,” and immediately made a note. Her manager demanded to know how Daniela could possibly decipher my meaning from such scant information.  We laughed him off, because he is a man and therefore not privy to the Secret Code of Women, and even lesser privy to the Secret Code of Blonds Who Everyone Else Thinks are Stupid, But Really We Communicate in Another Dimension.