A Swiss birthday dinner – Fondue Chinoise! And a recipe for Vermicelli rice

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Ever since I can remember, the meal on my birthday has been Fondue Chinoise. In Switzerland, this is the traditional dish for both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, but I loved it so much it became my special birthday dish as well. This ‘Chinese fondue’ consists of a pot of hot broth (we use beef, as it has the most flavour) in the middle of the table, into which everybody dips pieces of raw meat (this year, we had chicken and pork, but you can use just about any kind).

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Everybody’s fork is a different colour – to keep track

It poaches perfectly within just a few minutes and can then be eaten with a variety of sauces (my personal favourite is, unsurprisingly, garlic), rice and salad. There are many traditions that go along with it – one that my family sticks to very strictly is that whoever drops their meat in the soup has to sing a song of their choice. This year, it was my father, who quickly chanted ‘Happy Birthday’ when he saw his meat sink down to the bottom of the pan!

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The Swiss butchers always arrange the meat beautifully

The great thing about Fondue Chinoise is that it always ends with the soup, which has infused with all the delicious meat juices. Add a drop of sherry and you have the perfect warming finale to a wonderful evening!

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My mother always makes a special rice to go with this, which has Vermicelli noodles in it. It is indescribably yummy and can be made to go with other dishes as well (Western and even Indian!). It’s very simple.

In a small frying pan, heat some olive oil and fry the Vermicelli noodles. In a separate pot (or rice cooker), put the desired amount of Basmati rice in with water and salt. Add the fried noodles into the pot and cook until the rice is done. You’ll have a wonderfully tasty side dish and impress everyone with your innovation!

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