Fondue is big this year

Switzerland 2018 Fondue CHF1 fondue caquelonSo I look away for one moment and suddenly everyone is putting fondue on their stamps. And by ‘everyone’ I mean mostly Switzerland, but also Jersey.

Switzerland can be forgiven. Fondue as a mainstream dish is a surprisingly recent development in cuisine, but it’s theirs, and it’s a thing of national pride. Back in the 1930s, sitting around dipping stale bread into a pot of melted cheese must have been a fun way to pass a cold Alpine evening while discussing in four languages how the nearby rise of fascism left you feeling completely neutral.

Designed by Francisco Rojas, this December issue from Swiss Post celebrates fondue – not a history, as such, but just the mere existence of the dish. There’s a stamp with fondue on it, naturally, but also a stamp with cheese on it, or as I like to think of it, fondue-in-waiting. And as you can see, they’re both as big as a mountain, which is also how I like my cheese, so respect for that.

Switzerland 2018 Fondue CHF1 Cheese

You can also get this quite awesome miniature sheet featuring six of both stamps hovering above a giant fondue pot (or caqueron, as I’ve just learned a fondue pot is called. Must remember that next time I’m playing Scrabble). It even features a recipe for fondue in four languages. (Apparently it involves more than just melting cheese! Who’da thunk it?)

Switzerland 2018 Fondue CHF12 sheetlet

This is not even the first time the Swiss have put fondue on a stamp. A 2014 issue honoured Garfield. You know, the cartoon cat Garfield, famously remembered for his love of eating… um… fondue? OK then.Switzerland 2014 Garfield CHF1 Garfield eats fondue

Then there was the 2000 release celebrating ‘souvenirs’, and featuring a number of Swiss scenes depicted inside snow globes. Take a look inside this one, I bet you’ll never guess…

Switzerland 2000 souvenirs snowglobes CHF 0.20 fondue

If at this point you’re thinking of starting a topical stamp collection just on fondue, I can’t blame you, and it’s possible that this blog post will function as your complete catalogue. In which case it’s only fair to mention that fondue also popped up in one of what the Netherlands calls its ‘Decemberstamps’ in 2014. Apparently it’s something the Dutch like to do for Christmas – skewer some melted cheese and then sing Gouda King Wenceslaus. Thank you.

Netherlands 2014 December stamp fondue

So let’s turn to Jersey. Not content with taking out number 1 position in my recent 12 Stamps of Christmas countdown, it’s also jumping into the philatelic fondue pot. A year ago I mentioned Jersey’s far-out acid-inspired 1960s popular culture stamp issue. Well, there’s a 1970s follow-up now. I’ll save the detailed look for another post because it makes me happy for a whole other reason, but here’s the entry under ‘1970s food’:

Jersey 2019 1970s Popular Cultue 94p fondue

Credit where it’s due. That’s pretty ’70s.

This stamp resonates with me on a deeply personal level. Gathering dust in the back of a cupboard in my childhood home was a strange, orange-brown ceramic pot that sat on top of its own burner. It was never used; it had been a wedding gift to my parents, who were married in 1972. ’Nuff said. Many years later I came to realize that it was a fondue pot; this week I learned it was technically a caquelon. (Minimum 72 points if I land the C and N on triple word scores, plus 50 assuming I use all my letters.)

I do love this stamp. Those colours, those fashions… it looks like a cover on the kind of romance novel my Mum was reading in the 1970s while she was busy not using her caquelon. It looks like a bad date. That poor woman, patiently stirring her stale bread through her fondue, while her polo-necked companion smoothly slips his hand somewhere that’s probably not good and mansplains why Simon and Garfunkel aren’t getting back together anytime soon.

But let’s consider this stamp in the light of the Swiss issue just weeks beforehand. A cuisine that to Channel Islanders (and most of us in the English-speaking world) represents pure nostalgia, a laughable, long-burned-out fad – can you believe we used to sit around melting cheese in a pot and dipping bread into it? – remains a proud and vibrant part of a culture not even a thousand kilometres away.

How many other proud cultural customs have been embraced and then dispensed with elsewhere in the name of fashion? Centuries of tradition cheapened and discarded in favour of something equally old and yet temporarily more now. Futons, hula hoops, dreamcatchers, the Macarena… which cultural institution will be the next to be laughed off as a wacky, embarrassing fad? It’s time to take a stand against this mindless cultural appropriation.

I wonder if Mum still owns her caquelon.

Like this page? Stick your bread into this cheesy goodness and smear it all over the net on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram! And don’t forget to hit Follow and leave your thoughts! x

© Philatelic product images remain the copyright of issuing postal administrations and successor authorities

Love this retro Jersey

Jersey 2017 Popular Culture: The 1960s - moon landing, language, leisure stamps Jersey is one of those funny little islands in the English Channel that are closer to France, and part of the UK, but get to put out their own stamps.

Jersey 2017 Popular Culture: The 1960s 63p music stampInterestingly, this practice began during the Nazi occupation of those islands, when they were cut off from the mother country. This is just one of the reasons why nerds who are into postal history find them so delectable. (If you think you might be one of those nerds, you should check out the Channel Islands Specialists’ Society.)

I’m not one of those nerds, but I do like how these islands churn out pretty stamps, because, let’s face it, what else have they got going on? I mean apart from tax avoidance schemes.

Jersey 2017 Popular Culture: The 1960s 73p fashion stampRecently Jersey jumped on the retro stamp bandwagon with a 1960s Popular Culture issue.

I love the Hendrix-inspired psychedelic guitar player with his groovy vibes and his remarkable fused fingers on his strumming hand.

The models (or are they just ’60s housewives?) on the fashion stamp take me back to a childhood spent rifling through Grandma’s sewing pattern magazines.

And it eludes me why more stamp administrations don’t honour the cheese and pineapple stick on their postal stamps. Continue reading

My header: stamps that rock, and what graphic designers did to fashion designers

The header of this blog comprises two images that I felt were thematically and philosophically apt.

The colourful stamps in the background come from Australia’s 2006 ‘Rock Posters’ release, showcasing the talents of Australian designers as demonstrated in posters for various festivals, tours and gigs. I loved this issue. It was a kick in the balls compared to our usual diet of cute furry animals and dreary royals. Nice to see Australia Post acknowledge the possible existence of Australians who might not be as obsessed with sport and wildflowers as it seems to think most of its market is.

Australia, 2006, Australian Rock Posters(Nerd note: if you’re wondering where I got these stamps in a se-tenant sheet format as seen in my background, I made it myself. It doesn’t exist.)

The image I’m using as my avatar is that of a stamp released by the UK in 2012 as part of a Great British Fashion issue. This particular stamp features a harlequin dress designed by Vivienne Westwood in 1993 – not exactly punk in itself, but the Dame was instrumental in popularising punk fashion back when it was a thing, working with Malcolm McLaren to outfit the Sex Pistols and all that. Her ethos of using shock to stick a spoke in the system might be something to which this blog can aspire. Here’s the full set:

UK 2012 Great British FashionWhat a coincidence, Punk is wearing that little black Alexander McQueen number at her desk as she types.

Continue reading