09 December 2009

A Swedish Playdate

This morning, as luck would have it, Sanna and her small charge William were free for a playdate! Sanna is my Swedish friend from down the street, and William is one of Jules' little friends from school. They live very close to us. Thus, they quickly arrived at our house, and thus began our playdate - a playdate which started innocently enough, but which ended up becoming...well, actually, it stayed innocent, but turned out to be a whole lot more fun than we had originally planned...

First, whilst drinking English Breakfast tea with Sanna, I was suddenly prevailed upon by my spontaneity to make Christmas cookies, it being that time of the year in which baking Christmas cookies is generally accepted as an appropriate thing to do. This idea was met with much enthusiasm by all involved. I was, moreover, prevailed upon to add a great deal of food coloring to part of the cookie dough, managing (as you will see) to turn the dough brilliant shades of red and green, a procedure which made Félix very happy and caused his eyes to twinkle.

With much gusto, Félix, Jules and William, decorated the cookies with lots of colorful sprinkles.

The cookies went into the oven looking rather yummy...

...but came out of the oven looking rather pathetic; in fact, the red and green cookies were completely disturbing.

The boys loved the cookies anyway, although the red ones somewhat resembled the treats we give our dogs. When this was pointed out, Jules refused to eat any more red cookies.

So I said, "It could be that the green cookies taste better than the rest." This was said so that Sanna and I could eat the cookies which were not red and green. Félix declared that the cookies "didn't taste green at all." And although the flavor we were actually going for was not so much "not green" as "incredibly yummy," Sanna and I decided that our Christmas cookie endeavor was a success. As it is, tonight as I write this post, most of the cookies - red, green, or otherwise - remain uneaten.

After lunch, we broke a marmite with the boys. The marmite has an interesting story, as you shall hear...

Back in 1602, as I understand it, Geneva was being invaded by the Duke of Savoy. For those of you who never read anything more informative than blogspot, Savoy is an historical region located in what is now parts of France and Italy. Geneva was an extremely wealthy city-state, and the duke wanted to make it his northern capital.

But as the duke's soldiers climbed the walls of what is now "Old Town" (but was then just "Town"), one woman had a solution to the problem. Her name was Catherine Cheynel, and she was boiling a seriously huge pot of vegetable soup. The reason she was boiling so much vegetable soup was that she and her husband, Pierre Royaume, had fourteen children, and I'm guessing that meat for that many people wasn't cheap even back then.

So she took her pot of soup, right, and dumped it on the soldiers who were climbing the walls, thereby being heroic, but not really helping out that much. She did kill one man, and also helped cause a good commotion. Her kids also went hungry that night, which once again proves that it's hard to be a hero both inside and outside the home. Catherine Cheynel is now generally referred to as "Mère Royaume," or Mother Royaume.

But anyway, there's a song about the Escalade now, because "L'Escalade" is what the event is called, "escalader" being the French verb for "climb." The song has sixty-eight verses, and no, I can't sing it.

So back to the marmite to finish up this delightful story of soup and death...

The marmite is a small chocolate pot filled with marzipan shaped like vegetables and fruit, made to represent Mère Royaume's pot of soup. The youngest and oldest person in the room are supposed to hold hands and triumphantly exclaim, "Ainsi périrent les ennemis de la République!" ("Thus perish the enemies of the Republic!"). Then, still holding hands, they smash the chocolate marmite in one fell swoop - and then in the second fell swoop, all the children grab the candy and run. :-P Well, that last bit wasn't all that accurate, but the candy and chocolate are usually devoured fairly quickly, by children and parents alike.

Here is a picture of us devouring the marmite:

Adjö! Ciao! Bye!
That girl in Switzerland

P.S. Ok, so the only thing Swedish about the playdate was Sanna (and William is half Swedish too)...but my title got your attention, didn't it? Besides, when I named it that, I was actually in the process of failing to upload a video of Sanna teaching me some Swedish words. Quite funny, actually.


  1. Oooh What a fun time! Sometime ask me to tell you about a kitchen mishap that happened to me. Codeword: Jello

  2. :-) You guys are sweet...thank you!

    Mel - ooo...tell me about your jelloy kitchen mishap!