On committing one of the seven deadly sins, with a side of cheese

I know why the Romans invented vomitoriums. (Or if they didn't, why they should have.)

Dear Husband and I went to The Melting Pot tonight to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. We ordered the Big Night Out, which is a four-course extravanganza. The saddest part is that dessert comes only after you have filled up on cheese fondue and various meats and vegetables. We both left several pounds heavier and several dollars lighter, but it was a wonderful experience that we would both repeat.

I learned an interesting fact from our waiter, who had a slightly snarky and wonderful sense of humor. (He also may have been a med student in his spare time: At one point, he called us patients.) Apparently, they flour the grated cheese before adding it to the fondue, and this affects the oil in the cheese in such a way as to make it blend better with the other ingredients. Hmm. Google, here I come.

What did the all-knowing wizard of Internet searches reveal? Most recipes for fondue do have you mix cheese with flour in the first step, but none of the ones I found explained why. However, on a page about gluten-free living, I did find this nugget of information: Packets of ready-grated cheese may contain flour. So, does this mean you don't have to add flour when making fondue at home? An interesting question, but it's one I can't answer. I will say, though, that I don't think it would hurt to add more flour. Unless, of course, you have coeliac disease. But you probably already knew that.


At 3:12 PM, Anonymous chemprof said...

The flour (or cornstartch) prevents all the protiens in the cheese from clumping together as they melt. The proteins unwind and get long as they melt (think of untangling a knot of rubber bands all linked together), and without the flour they would tangle up with each other to form clumps. The starch molecules in the flour (or cornstarch) get inbetween the protein molecules and prevent the tangling (and subsequent clumping).

Check out Good Eats Alton Brown "For Whom the Cheese Melts" Scene 7 (transcript available at http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/GEFP/index.htm

Sounds like I need to try the Melting Pot!

At 11:59 PM, Blogger Mel said...

Wow, I just had a high school chemistry flashback :-)Thanks for the link -- I'll definitely check it out. And yes, you definitely need to try the Melting Pot!

At 9:53 AM, Anonymous chemprof said...

I hope it was a good flashback! :-)

At 12:16 PM, Blogger Mel said...

I think I must have liked it at some point -- I signed up for 3 years of it in high school. :-)

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Lex said...

I'm not a huge fondue fan, and honestly, my one experience at the Melting Pot, years ago, left me feeling like one big zit, which actually is different from how I usually feel.

But there's no accounting for taste.


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