From the archives
Christmas traditions in Switzerland
One should never think that everybody in Switzerland eats the same thing for Christmas dinner. With four languages and a multitude of “mini-cultures” tucked away its various mountain niches, and with a huge international population, Switzerland may well have more Christmas menus than any other country in the world.
In the French-speaking part of Switzerland, Geneva’s traditions are quite apart from the Vaud, for example, due to the late date Geneva finally decided to become part of Switzerland. Geneva traditions are often more influenced by their Savoyard and French neighbors, since they share about 100 km of border with them and only 5 km with canton Vaud.
What’s so special about a Longeole?
Many Genevois eat a sausage specific to Geneva called longeole. Every region and many villages have their own sausage recipes, but the longeole is quite apart from the others for several reasons.
white wine, a Geneva Christmas specialty.
For one thing, it contains not only ground pork, but also ground pork rind. This keeps it from drying out and gives it fuller flavor. The other, and quite major, difference is that that it is speckled with fennel seeds, probably a Savoyard influence.
Any good local butcher makes his own longeole. If not, it is advisable to find one who does. It’s Christmas, so you want to be certain it’s of good quality.
Longeole is easy to cook, but you must allow yourself enough time. It takes longer to cook than other cooking sausages because of the addition of the pork rind, which is harder than simple ground pork.
Use a soup pot tall enough to hold your sausage. Fill with water and bring water to boil. Add a touch of salt. Drop in sausage, lower heat, and let it simmer for 2 hours 45 minutes or 3 hours. The water should be just on the verge of boiling during the whole cooking time. It is then ready to slice and eat.
Some cooks prick the Longeole with a fork before cooking, but purist that I am, I think you risk losing some of the juices, which would take away from the flavor and make the sausage less succulent in the mouth. It is also important not to let it boil, because this too will dry it out.
What do Genevois eat with Longeole?
Like everywhere, different families have different traditions, different favorites, but the most common accompaniments are potatoes cooked in white wine, lentil stew and cardoon gratin, all Geneva specialties as well.