In honor of L’Escalade, we got our very own marmite (Swiss chocolate pot; not to be confused with Marmite, the salty yeast spread) at a local chocolatier. I’m going into my second year of living in Geneva and am just now learning about L’Escalade and the tradition of cracking the marmite. Better late than never, I suppose! We chose a small, milk chocolate one – check out how cute it was – but you can opt for a larger or dark chocolate one, if that’s what you prefer.
Mexicans beat their festive piñatas ‘to death’ in order to retrieve the candies and other goodies that are stashed inside. Genevans buy chocolate marmites and, instead of taking turns hitting the pot (I’m not sure how that would even be feasible?), the eldest and the youngest in the family – together and at the same time – strike the pot to crack it open. The marmite is usually filled with marzipan vegetables. Some came flowing out of ours, along with these delicious marmalade candies wrapped together with little wooden sticks you can pull from both sides to make a pop!
Genevans buy these marmites to commemorate their successful resistance to French occuptation. Allegedly, a lady by the name of Mère Royaume, “a plucky cook,” tipped her cauldron over the heads of the Duke of Savoy’s soldiers who were trying to scale the walls of Geneva’s Old Town on a similar December night in 1602.
It’s funny to learn the history behind the marmite tradition because when I first heard about it, I asked, “So, did the Swiss throw scorching fondue at the French to scare them away or what?”
Don’t ask me how I knew that because I couldn’t tell you. All I know is that the chocolate, marzipan and marmalade were heavenly.