Jack Canfield has published a whole series of books called Chicken Soup for the Soul. However, as I have learned this week the Swiss Cheese Union would disagree. It has been their argument since the 1800’s that Cheese Fondue is good for the soul. Cheese fondue has been said to be the “spiritual defense of Switzerland” and to create a good mood. To this day, cheese fondue continues to be a symbol of Swiss unity. This has gotten me thinking about what it is about cheese fondue that could be a spiritual defense and/or create a good mood.
It may not be the fondue itself, which that lends to one’s spiritual defense, but the way it is served and eaten. It is not that you cannot eat cheese fondue by yourself, but traditionally it is served in a communal pot, on a portable stove. All gathered around the table dip their pieces of bread in this melted cheese and wine mixture and share a meal together. Granted that the wine in the fondue might contribute to the good mood, however, there is something about sharing a meal together, which can be spiritual.
While fondue may seem as if it something fancy, it has its roots in the poorest of communities who took what was always available, wine, cheese, and bread. They created a dish that allowed them to share their gifts with each other and nourish each other’s souls over what in many countries continues to be a staple and tradition, the fondue pot and forks.
There is also an etiquette that comes with eating fondue. Each of which has a spiritual lesson of its own. One of rules about dipping is to take the time to allow the excess cheese to fall back into the pot. Not only does this give the cheese time to cool and prevent you from making a mess on your face and hands; it also teaches us to be mindful to take only what we need and leave the excess for others. This practice is reflective of the Buddhist approach to eating, which liberates consciousness through eating in moderation, with compassion and loving-kindness. By taking turns and giving each person gathered around the pot time to dip their bread, there is time to reflect on the experience of each bite and the importance of time with friends. This is reflective of the Jewish tradition, which focuses on making each meal holy and wholesome.
Sharing a pot of fondue can be a time where relationships are strengthened. This same quality is reflected in the Christian tradition where, meals are a time to strengthen community and enhance communion. Whatever your religious affiliation, background, or tradition, sharing a pot of cheese fondue with friends and family can provide a unique opportunity to create a personalized spiritual and communal experience.
Perhaps it is time to gather round the table with friends, experience the spiritual experiences of cheese fondue, and allow it to speak to your soul. May we dip into our cheese fondue and allow it to speak to our souls.
[a] Fondue http://www.alternapedia.net/wiki.pl?Fondue