The arrival of spring is welcome news – even if means fewer fondues. Bowls of warm cheese have helped us get through many a cold winter’s evening in Lille.
Before moving here, I hadn’t realised fondues were such a big thing in France.
In the UK, they’re very retro. They were popular in the 1970s and then enjoyed a comeback in the 1990s as people rediscovered flares, Boney M and Abigail’s Party.
Which makes them overdue for a comeback, surely?
I hope so, because we’ll definitely have fondues on the menu when we open our cheese-and-wine business. Hopefully, locals and tourists alike will love them.
Fondues were actually one of the things that helped us settle into life in Lille. On Damon’s first weekend here, we found a restaurant called Le Broc devoted entirely to cheese.
The restaurant is so popular, there are two branches in the city. One is just the other side of Place de la République from our flat, so that’s the one we go to.
Of the many fondues they offer, we especially love la Parisienne (Cantal, Comté, Emmental, ham and white mushrooms) and la Forestière (Cantal, Comté, Beaufort, girolles, ceps and white mushrooms).
But there are plenty of other cheese-themed dishes to choose from too. From tartiflette to baked Camembert, from cheeseburgers to various cheese salads…
You can also get un Welsh, the French version of Welsh rarebit. It’s considered a northern French delicacy – though, believe me, there’s nothing delicate about it.
“Un Welsh, the French version of Welsh rarebit, is considered a northern French delicacy – though there’s nothing delicate about it”
My surname is Welch, which I pronounce as though the c were an s. The staff at Le Broc find it hilarious.
“Ah, Monsieur Welch. Vous désirez un Welsh ce soir… ?”
I laugh along with them. After all, they treat us very well – we always get the best table and a digestif, which helps to break up all the cheese we have just consumed.
So, it’s a shame spring is here and fondue is off my personal menu for the time being. Roll on autumn!