First post ever in the world to have the words fondue and banchan in it? Maybe.
It is snowing nearly every day here in the Ostalbkreis, but we are all nevertheless looking forward to the end of winter. Easter decorations are on abundant display and the winter wares are being pushed out. For some, this heralds the imminent end to winter traditions such as fondue and raclette.
The above photo is of the Easter display at DM, one of my favorite places to shop, but walking into household good stores is where I truly love to wander around and spend too much time “eye shopping” as the Koreans would say. I can easily drive by when it comes to shoes and clothes, but when it comes to kitchen appliances, I would definitely double back!
So, I found myself in one of the household goods store of Aalen. Interestingly enough, it is one of the few places where you can buy a crib mattress since it has a baby department in the back. This past Saturday, Vera and I walked into Mayer Haushaltswaren to see if they might have a mattress for Lenny’s new bed. I got distracted at the entry. (Yes, you would think that we would already have a convertible crib and mattress for our third child but of course this is in storage. Over the weekend we found a used bed to buy and were now looking for a new mattress.) On our way in, I saw the sale items where these interesting looking divided plates caught my eye. Originally over 10 euros each, they were reduced to one euro. I grabbed two different kinds.
I didn’t know what they were for, but I had a purpose in mind. I asked the saleswoman what kind of plates these were, and she told me that they were meant for fondue: for pieces of meat, vegetables, sauces, etc.
These made me think of my mother and how we sometimes joked that she needed a deviled egg plate to eat her banchan from. One time when I was visiting her, instead of dishing out all of the banchan from their storage containers onto separate small bowls, she placed the various banchan on one big dinner plate whenever it was just the two of us eating lunch. The way it all looked on the plate made me think of a deviled egg plate, and I even thought of buying her one for her lunch. But they simply have too many indentations to accommodate numerous same-sized eggs rather than the small handful and assorted volume of banchan.
These fondue plates on the other hand looked perfect. Perfect for kimchi and a couple other banchan. I decided to try putting all of my bibimbap toppings on here. If I was eating eggs right now, I would have placed a fried egg in the center. (That would have looked cute!) In practice though, I wouldn’t recommend using this for bibimbap. It looks nice, but it was a pain to take the toppings out again to place them onto the bowl of rice.
They are still ideal for typical banchan which you would eat by the biteful with chopsticks or a spoon. You also save time and energy by serving everything on one dish and then placing the single dish into the dishwasher.
I can’t imagine being able to easily find these in the US, but you can find fondue plates in any home goods shop in Germany or order it on the internet. They are perfect for a low maintenance yet elegant way of serving banchan for one or two people.