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Sometimes you just want a pot of cheese for dinner.

* Several semi-soft cheeses, in equal measure, about half a pound of cheese per person. Good choices: fontina, butterkase, emmanthaler, gouda. Avoid harder cheeses like parmesan and manchego, and cheeses that don't play well with others, such as cheddar.

* One cup (8oz) of white wine per pound or so of cheese. It's not exact. You can also use beer, but the wine works better. (If using beer: double the lemon juice.)

* About a tablespoon or so of lemon juice, but keep the container on the table in case you need to perform emergency rescue proceedings.

* More flour than you think you need. Usually about a third of a cup per pound of cheese.

* A few cloves of garlic, minced

* A dash or two of nutmeg (I have never measured a spice in my entire life). Sometimes I toss in some ginger, too. Experiment.

* Salt and pepper to taste

Grate the cheeses together into a mixing bowl or other repository. Every now and then, sprinkle some more of the flour on top of the grated cheese and mix it around with your hands until the cheese is evenly coated and doesn't stick together at all.

In your fondue pot over 'warm' (if you have an electric fondue pot) or in a double boiler with the heat set to low (if you don't), pour in the wine and the lemon juice and let it warm until it's just thinking about simmering. Toss in the garlic and let it cook for about three to five minutes, then toss in the nutmeg. (Adding it here gets it more evenly incorporated than adding at the end!)

Add the grated cheese, a handful or so at a time, stirring constantly and waiting until the cheese you just added is melted before adding the next handful. Salt and pepper to taste; serve with whatever you want for dipping.

Failure modes: if the fondue is too thick, add a bit more wine; if it's too grainy, add a dash of lemon juice and a pinch of flour; if it's too liquid or you've added too much lemon juice and it's too tart, add more cheese.

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