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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

How to change a battle into a chocolate pot


Switzerland is famous for its peaceful neutrality and its chocolate. Geneva, for much of the year, claims to be a center for banking and international organizations, but for the past 400 years, every December, it has devoted two weeks to reminding people that civic unrest can be profitably turned into chocolate pots.

The chocolate pot lesson is called L'Escalade. In 1604 the Duke of Savoy attacked Geneva. As they scaled the walls Mother Royaume, surely one of the town's stronger citizens, tipped her cauldron of boiling soup over the Savoyards heads. Geneva was saved and in gratitude, invented the chocolate cauldron, eaten in large quantities by the citizenry every year. Fittingly, UBS, the country's largest bank, and Migros, one of its two big supermarket chains are among the sponsors for events surrounding the Escalade celebrations.

Yesterday I shopped at the Migros, where I was confronted by a ceiling high stack of chocolate marmites, or cauldrons. I bought one of the filled ones, but we will have to wait until December 10, the day of Geneva's Escalade celebrations, to find out what is inside. You can also buy empty ones, to fill with your own chocolate or marzipan treats.

Here is what my inexpensive one looks like from the outside. Next week when I am in Geneva I will visit a chocolate shop to buy a handmade one.

A chocolate marmite with attitude.

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