The word fondue conjures up images of winter evenings with a few friends around the table sharing a pot of rich, melted cheese. But today's fondue doesn't stop at cheese. It can include anything from beef dunked in boiling, fragrant oil to bananas and pineapple dipped in chocolate.
The ultimate collection of fondue recipes is found in a new book, ``Fondues From Around the World,'' by Eva and Ulrich Klever (Barron's, $8.95 hard-cover).
It starts with famous cheese fondue recipes from Switzerland -- including a raclette from Valais, the Swiss canton where the dish, cooked by a wood fire, is a specialty.
Then there are ``broth dips'' from Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore; tempura from Japan; and the Mongolian Hot Pot from China, said to be the oldest fondue dish of all.
The book includes a list of the best fish for dipping, naming, among others, fresh tuna and halibut, scallops, and shrimp. It also tells which seafood is not considered ideal for this kind of cooking.
Since fondue is defined as any dish that is cooked at the table and eaten from one pot, a wide range of ideas is presented for meats, fruits, and vegetables that can be cooked in what is called a ``pan fondue'' or a mini-grill.
There are also recipes for broiled, skewered foods and sweet fondues.