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I got a Le Creuset fondue pot a year or two ago. Since then, we've found a bunch of great cheese fondue recipes, but there's a common thread that makes no sense to me. Often times, a recipe will call for a clove of garlic. The instructions of the recipe will call for you to rub the clove on the inside of the pot before starting the recipe. The recipe will make no further reference to the garlic.

Why do I need to do this? Am I supposed to use the garlic in the dish after the rubbing? Does the rubbing of garlic really affect the dish? How? Why?

This seems like it wouldn't have any significant effect and seems like a bit of a waste. We usually end up sautéing the garlic for 15-30 seconds and then proceeding as normal. Are we missing something?

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You rub the garlic in the pot to gain a subtle garlic flavour. Same idea as rubbing a sliced garlic clove on grilled bread, or on meat prior to cooking.

Raw garlic is also moderately antibacterial in nature, so I suppose that could be a reason too.

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    Yeah, it is supposed to just be a subtle flavor; if you like more garlic, it is perfectly fine to saute it and add to the fondue instead. – Michael Natkin Oct 9 '10 at 5:41
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We usually end up sautéing the garlic for 15-30 seconds and then proceeding as normal.

If you like the results, keep doing it. That's how we do it - I've never been able to taste even a hint of garlic in a fondue done the traditional way.

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    Well, it is supposed to be subtle, and unless you are really careful, it is easy to brown the garlic, which is a particular flavour some might not want. Also, fondue is supposed to be as smooth as possible, with few solids other than milk solids in it. No matter how fine you chop or crush garlic, it adds solids to the mix. Though, as you say, if it works, go for it. (The smoothness/subtle argument is one of the reasons some sauces call for scalding milk or cream with a whole clove of garlic, bay leaves, etc. which you then strain out.) – user40061 Oct 29 '15 at 14:53

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