14 December 2008

Marmite de l'Escalade

This time of year it is traditional for the Genevans to commemorate the only fight they actually came out of victoriously.

On the night of December 12th 1602 a French army, sent by the duke of Savoy (encouraged by the Pope), marched towards Geneva along the river Arve. The locals largely ascribe the victory to Mrs. Royaume who, for unknown reasons, was busy preparing a large cauldron of soup in the wee hours of December 12th. The Royaume family lived near one of the city gates and when the French soldiers attacked they had Mrs. Royaume's hot soup coming down on their heads. This killed one of the attackers (presumably by being hit by the cauldron itself - otherwise it might not be so flattering for the local culinary reputation), and the rest of the city was woken up so they could defend the city.

Therefore, in the days leading up to December 12th, one finds lots of chocolate cauldrons in different sizes in the shops. On the day itself people gather around such a pot and find the youngest and the oldest person in the group. Together these two will smash the cauldron while yelling in French "Thus perish the enemies of the republic". Afterwards one eats the chocolate and the marzipan vegetables it contained. As it also quite widespread to dress up for this candy feast, there seems to be a few parallels with Halloween...

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