Chinese fondue is a culinary crossover between two nations. A dish that exists in both China and Switzerland. The Swiss version retains the communal pot of hot broth, thinly sliced raw meat and Chinese mushrooms of the original but departs radically in terms of flavour.
The Chinese one uses chili, sesame and soya, while the Swiss one replaces these flavours with curry, ketchup, barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, mustard, gherkins and even lemon, turning it into something a Chinese person wouldn’t recognize in a blind taste test.
In Switzerland, Chinese fondue is typically reserved for the festive season. However, it comes with a dark side that will put the brakes on any celebration.
According to the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO), food poisoning rises at the end of the year, something partly attributable to Chinese fondue. Raw chicken, and its high rate of campylobacter contamination, is the main cause. In general meat is the most likely source of food poisoning, according to FSVO, and men between 18 and 30 are the most likely to get poisoned.
In Switzerland, every year around 10,000 suffer from food poisoning, with between 7,000 to 8,000 caused by campylobacter. Overall, food poisoning costs taxpayers and those paying Swiss health insurance premiums CHF 50 million a year. 20% of this is due to campylobacter.
Symptoms, which appear within two days of infection and last around a week include diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, bloating, vomiting and blood in stool.
The best way to avoid campylobacter food poisoning is to cook meat well, especially poultry, and keep raw meat well away from all other food.