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A little history
In ancient kitchens there were marmite style pots such as the Greek lebes, a large almost spherical metal bowl, or the Roman olla. These all-purpose containers were used to cook meat or vegetables and to preserve fruits. Later, the marmite would even be commonly used to do washing in. The word "marmite" appears in the French language in the 12th century to describe the simmering content hidden under the lid. As wide as it is tall, cylindrical in shape and fitted with two side handles, it has a lid, unlike the cauldron that it replaces. Just like the "faitout" or stewpot (not as high), the "rondeau", the "huguenote" (on feet) and the "pot-au-feu" (higher), it belongs to the family of "cooking vessels", large containers that appeared after the French revolution. But it would have to wait until the mid-nineteenth century to for its moment of glory with the arrival of cast iron and furnaces.
What is it for?
Traditionally of large capacity, the marmite is used to cook large quantities of food with water, including pasta or rice, to simmer soups and dishes based on vegetables such as ratatouille or couscous, to poach meats and also to blanch vegetables. It is also suitable for cooking crustaceans - crabs, lobsters...
Its volume makes the marmite a champion of hospitality when it comes to being placed on the table.
Various accessories transform the marmite into a utensil that can be used to cook French fries, pasta, semolina, asparagus...
What is it made of?
With its generally thin bottom, the marmite comes in a variety of materials. Copper is particularly desirable for its excellent thermal conductivity, but the interior must be tin-plated regularly to ensure safety. Aluminium and stainless steel, even if the latter could be better in terms of conductivity, are decent alternatives for everyday use.
The choice of the mounting - the handles - is also important. You can choose the safety of a "cold" mount in cast stainless steel or go for the beautiful look of a bronze mount.