Posts Tagged Switzerland

Five of Clubs: Marmites

This weekend Geneva celebrates the Fête de l’Escalade, so I made a video of the piece I wrote about various things called marmites, their nutritional value, use in soup cooking, and effectiveness against invading Savoyards. It’s been adapted slightly to work on video, and includes some destruction, a dangerous stunt, and a slight tilt I didn’t have time to correct.

Chocolate cannon for shooting marmites

I read this at the Geneva Writers’ Group on Saturday, using all the same props, and the Marmite was smashed in a way probably closer to the tradition than all the other Marmite-smashings I’ve induced. It’s the last one in the video. I am not sure how many people tried the various yeast spreads, but several told me of their preexisting preferences.

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Video: Jonathan Coulton’s Sentient Beard (and how to defeat it)

Here is a video I made using some of my footage from the quiz show on the first JoCo Cruise CrazyJonathan Coulton’s first concert in Amsterdam and a tour of Gruyères I took in February, and a song about moustaches from an audio recording of a Jonathan Coulton concert. It explains my ulterior motive for wanting The Bearded One to come to Switzerland.

I had the idea for this during the tour, as soon as I heard about Chupia Barba, but I only got around to editing together the video today. I’m on holiday from work for the next two weeks, but with no particular travel plans, so I’m hoping to finish many of the creative projects I’ve started, and perhaps even post one every weekday. I’m going to put these posts into a ‘Holiday Highlights’ category, out of nostalgia for primary school when we always had to write a ‘Holiday Highlights’ story at the beginning of a new term. I promise they won’t all be about Jonathan Coulton, or beards.

If you do like Jonathan Coulton, though, you might like the videos I took of the other concerts I went to recently, in Bristol, Manchester and London. Also, booking for JoCo Cruise Crazy II is open, although not all the entertainers have been announced yet. It’s not going to Jamaica, so you really have no reason not to go. Here are some reasons to go from the aforementioned concert recordings.

If you prefer maths, and particularly overhyped constants such as pi, you might like that this video is 3:14:15 long.

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Qu’ainsi périssent les ennemis du Cenovis !

Fake Genevan karate-chopping two jars of different kinds of Marmite, while a Marmite de l'Escalade sits unharmed behind them.

Note: This is now available on video

This weekend is the Fête de l’Escalade, an annual commemoration of the night in 1602 when the Genevans defeated the invading Savoyards with the help of a diligent housewife and a pot of vegetable soup. I think this should be held up as an example in Good Housekeeping.

As part of this celebration, it’s traditional to smash a marmite while saying ‘Qu’ainsi périssent les ennemis de la République !’, which means ‘Thus perish the enemies of the republic!’ I happen to have several kinds of Marmite at home, mostly purchased for the tasty yeasty taste test at a Swiss party I held in New Zealand a few years ago.

The marmite at the back of this picture is a soup pot made of chocolate, usually filled with marzipan vegetables before being smashed by the youngest and oldest people present. The one at the top is British Marmite, a by-product of beer brewing rich in vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B12. It’s usually spread on toast but sometimes used to make a thin, yeast-flavoured soup. It’s probably the saltiest of all the yeast spreads I’ve tried. As far as I can tell, it is identical to the yeast spread sold as ‘Our Mate’ in New Zealand. The one at the bottom is New Zealand Marmite. It’s also a by-product of beer brewing used to spread on toast and make soup, but it tastes different, has iron in it, and is available in larger pots. It has to compete with the Australian yeast spread Vegemite, which has no iron or vitamin B12 in it and gives the illusion of being more vegetarian than Marmite.

In Geneva, however, the word ‘marmite’ is widely used to describe an even larger pot, often made of iron but rarely made of B vitamins, such as one might use to cook soup or foil invading Savoyards. In military slang, it means a shell, such as one might use to foil invading Savoyards. So when the Swiss finally discovered that they could spread the leftovers from beer brewing on their toast, they had to call it something else. To minimise the chances of having to compete with Vegemite, they chose Cenovis — a name which is known in New Zealand and Australia as a brand of multivitamin. Cenovis spread, which is rich in vitamin B1 but not B2, B3, B12 or iron, was added to Swiss military rations, so that the soldiers would be well-nourished and better able to fire marmites at invading Savoyards. It is also available as a liquid, for adding to the marmite if the vegetable soup doesn’t have enough flavour or killing power.

Cenovis multivitamin contains all the B vitamins and iron, along with plenty of other vitamins that you’d be better off getting from a pot of vegetable soup. It probably doesn’t taste very good on toast.

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Ace of Spades: Limerick

Ace of Spades showing Adare Co, Limerick

Wild Rose (Rosa acicularis) from Wildflowers of Canada
Miss Day complains she never knows
why her boyfriend called her Wild Rose.
By any other name
she’d smell just the same
as her tissues begin to necrose.
La Tour Eiffel / The Eiffel Tower
Un printemps une grande hirondelle,
sauta de la tour Eiffel,
mais une fois dans l’air,
elle tomba sur terre,
car on lui avait coupé les ailes. 
A swallow decided one spring
Eiffel tower was worth base-jumping.
Soon after the jump
it fell on its rump
for somebody had clipped its wing.
Interlaken mit Jungfrau
A young frau who swam Lake Brienz
was popular past all intents.
For the water was clear,
and without underwear,
she put on quite a show for the gents.
Fahnenschwinger (Flag Thrower)
A two-to-one flag made a fuss
of an equal-sized flag with a plus.
It said, “I’m neutral,
but my diagonal
is your base, which are belong to us.”
The ATLAS Detector for LHC
Some pixels of fifty micrometers
two trackers and two calorimeters.
Eight magnets toroidal
and one solenoidal
surrounded by muon spectrometer.
Deep under soil Helvetic
are toroids electromagnetic
to confirm mc squared
makes particles (paired)
Converted from E that’s kinetic.
And now for a different detector:
If experiments had consciousness,
Just what do you think they’d confess?
“Well here under Cessy,
It’s all very messy.
Smashed hadrons and I CMS.”
Pour réussir au jeu de Jass,
on met les atouts et les as.
Mais il faut être vite
sur ce putain de site (excuse my French)
avant que les aut’ ne se cassent.
Niagara Falls
The catch with Niagara Falls,
is the cliché that always enthralls.
One must use Viagra,
to rhyme with Niag’ra,
And frankly I haven’t the balls.

Read the rest of this entry »

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