This fabled dish is said to have been invented in the Swiss canton of Zurich during a 16th-century siege, when meals had to be improvised from available ingredients.
- 1 loaf country bread
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1 1⁄4 cups dry white wine (preferably Swiss fendant)
- 1 lb. (about 3 cups) gruyere cheese, chopped
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch
- 2 tbsp. kirsch
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Tear country bread into bite-size pieces. Set aside.
Rub interior of a medium stainless-steel pot with garlic clove, then discard garlic. Add white wine and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add gruyere cheese and nutmeg. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until cheese melts (cheese and wine will not yet be blended).
Combine cornstarch with kirsch in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly and stir into cheese mixture. Continue to stir and simmer until cheese mixture becomes smooth, about 5 minutes, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, adding up to ¼ cup more wine if fondue is too thick.
To serve, transfer to a fondue pot or chafing dish set over a flame. To eat, spear bread pieces with fondue forks and dip in cheese, continuing to stir with forks as you dip.