Tomato Cheddar Fondue

cheddar fondue

"Without community, there is no liberation."--Audre Lourde

Nothing says community like eight fondue forks crowded around a bubbling pot.  I'll talk about the (delicious! easy!) recipe in a minute, but it feels sort of coincidental today.

I was with my community this morning.  We celebrate MLK Day like some churches celebrate Easter or Christmas.  Angela delivers her most rousing sermon of the year.  We sing "We Shall Overcome" as many times as we'll tolerate.  We have readings from Desmond Tutu, Mahatma Gandhi, The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., and Audre Lourde.  This year, we focused on Haiti, how Dr. King's vision demands that we take care of our brothers and sisters there.  Our little church raised thousands of dollars for Partners in Health this morning, and there wasn't a dry eye in the place.

I thought about not going.  Yancey's working, and sometimes taking two kids to church alone is a nightmare (I can hear an "Amen!" from all you single parents out there).  I've felt tired all weekend--tired from work; tired from my rare insomnia.  So I almost gave up on the whole church thing when Loretta refused to put her shoes and coat on.  She had three time-outs before 9:30 a.m.  Finally, I picked her up like a sack of potatoes, buckled her in, and threw her coat and shoes in after her.  Not a mountaintop moment, Dr. King.

Once there, though, Loretta happily settled in with more loving adults, I knew how horrible it would have been to be alone at the end of a week like this.  I must have cried for 90 minutes straight.  The last couple years, MLK Day has really undone me. Yes, I'm crying for all the injustice that's still rampant in our world. But I've also found myself totally bereft at the loss of the man himself.  I wish he was still alive.  I wish he was still inciting us to action; campaigning against the triple evils of racism, militarism, and materialism.  I suppose it's up to us now.  And here I am, making fondue.

My sister and her family came over for dinner tonight.  I made the traditional cheese fondue (Gruyere, white wine), but it's this one I keep thinking about.  Not temperamental at all, a flavor so comforting you want to take the bowl into your room, hide from your children, and read People magazine.  And it's just canned tomatoes (the superhero of non-perishables), regular ol' medium cheddar, a bit of white wine.

Happy Martin Luther King Day, friends.

Cheddar Tomato Fondue
Serves four (if you're nice to each other).  Taken straight out of my new Gourmet Today cookbook (you know--that light green all of you should own).  I suppose you could try this with a sharper (more expensive) cheddar, but I really don't think you need to.  The wine, tomatoes, and garlic are enough to make it seem much more extravagant than it actually is.  And there are so many other things you can dip--blanched broccoli, roasted cauliflower, boiled little new potatoes.

2/3 cup finely chopped drained canned tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons dry white wine
1 tablespoon cornstarch
12 oz Cheddar, coarsely grated (3 cups)
Accompaniment: cubes of French bread

Cook tomatoes and garlic in butter in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir together wine and cornstarch in a small bowl, then stir into tomatoes and simmer gently, stirring, 1 minute. Discard garlic. Add Cheddar by handfuls, stirring until completely melted. Serve in a fondue pot set over a flame.