Introducing Raclette: Cheese, Glorious Cheese

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I can't believe I've made it this far in life and not known about Raclette. Oh sure, I've heard the word, I've known it exists. I used to have a Swiss friend who would announce from time to time that she was having Raclette for dinner. I had no idea what that meant and always responded with something like, "Oh, that's great," or "Mmmm Raclette, that sounds yummy." Until now, Raclette has just been a two-syllable word to me.

A few weeks ago my Mother-in-law left us with a wedge of Raclette, and we took it out the other night to play with some pickled celery, steamed vegetables, olives, and baguette.

Raclette, for those of you not in the know, is the name of a group of cheeses whose names, in Switzerland, reflect the villages where they are made. Raclette may also come from the north and east of France. It's pretty much made to be melted, so while you can put it in your fondue pot, it can also be sliced thinly and simply tossed on a hot plate. Melted goodness ensues.

We splashed a little of this red Lambrusco in our glasses to wash down all the warm, earthy, luscious cheese.

I know this is one of those fizzy, off-dry, almost silly wines that conjures up images of secreting away with your friends, in the cover of darkness, during those pre-legal-drinking-age years, but I still like it. It's only six percent alcohol, so it's light and easy to drink. The fizz is short-lived, but the fruitiness of it balanced the viscosity of the cheese very nicely, thank you very much.

Word: Raclette comes from the French racler, which means to scrape. Traditionally a chunk of the round of cheese would be warmed, by a fire presumably, after which the melted edges of runny cheese would be scraped onto a slice of bread.

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