There are two types of people in the world. There are the thoughtful, practical people who replace things before they break. They don’t wait until their car dies on the side of the interstate before they contemplate a new-car purchase. They don’t wait until the washing machine give up the ghost with wet clothes in it before acquiring a new one.

And then there are the emergency people. They do wait until the freezer stops working with $568 worth of frozen food in it before rushing to Sears for another one. And they wait until snow is predicted – snow that will crush the canvas top of the gazebo on the deck – before taking it down in sub-zero temperatures.

I am making fondue with olive-oil baked croutons and roasted broccoli and cauliflower when I hear the clatter of the ladder coming up from the garage. Actually, I bought the fondue at Trader Joe’s for an unbelievable $5.99, but that’s a minor detail.  “Noah!” yells Mark. “I need your help!” It is completely dark outside and conditions for frost bite are ideal. It is time to take down the canvas from the gazebo.

It is not that this happens once in a blue moon. It happens every year. We are the emergency Mayhews. I used to be part of the emergency crew, but happily Noah is now of age where he has taken my spot. What we will do when Noah goes off to college I don’t even want to contemplate. But they accomplished the task in the frigid cold, bringing the canvas gazebo top and lawn chair pads (of course, we hadn’t put those away, either) into the house and plopping them unceremoniously in the dining room.

So, here’s the great thing about fondue. It’s the ultimate communal meal and you do not need a fondue pot and those funny little forks to serve it. In fact, I am actively opposed to fondue pots or any other kitchen contraptions that only serve one purpose.

Just take some crusty rustic bread from the Publix, splash it with some olive oil and sprinkle it with salt. Toast it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes. Roast some broccoli and cauliflower florets, also with olive oil and salt,  in the oven at the same temperature for another 15 minutes. Take the fondue out of the package and melt it in any old ugly pot you have until it’s bubbly. That’s it!

Who can object to a supper that involves oil-soaked bread and melted cheese?

The good news here is that they’ve already called off school for tomorrow. We cancel school if there’s a single snowflake within 300 miles of Brentwood. If it actually does snow the emergency Mayhews will look like geniuses. Instead of standing under the gazebo top with a push broom and knocking off the snow (which we have done on more than on occasion, I’m sorry to admit), we will be happily sleeping in while we get a rare, glittery, beautiful, white taste of winter.


  1. Terrell Jones
    Terrell JonesReply
    January 7, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Did you use real cheese or that other thing you have a fixation on.

    • the south in my mouth
      the south in my mouthReply
      January 9, 2010 at 12:07 am

      I think Velveeta is called for in most cheese recipes, but not in fondue. However, Velveeta melted with browned ground beef and Rotel tomotoes makes a dip that is superior to any other football snack ever conceived.

  2. Marko52
    January 7, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    In this context, “thoughtful” and “practical” translate to “has more money than he/she knows what to do with.”

    For the rest of us, “drive it until the wheels fall off” is the norm.

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