Rooster and Coq au Vin

15th January 2022 Annie R Teo

Sometimes all it takes is a picture to trigger a whole lot of thoughts, if I’m not wrong, those are called ideograms and I definitely found one in Beena’s magnificent cockerel. Now you may be wondering (as I hope you do) what the image of a cockerel means to me; so, let me enjoy sharing.

Some of you may have happened to watch perhaps a World Cup game on TV played by the French team and wondered why some funny looking dudes were brandishing a live and innocent rooster in the direction of the field? This, my friends, goes back to ancient tradition, back to the Gauls ( present day France, Belgium and parts of Germany) and the year 52 BC when the ancestors of the French and their most famous leader Vercingetorix (surely a cousin of Asterix) 😊 were fighting a long war against the Romans led by the illustrious general Julius Caesar. So, as war was raging between the two factions, Vercingetorix sent a live rooster to Caesar, a clear message to signify that the Gauls were very courageous, skilled fighters and proud of their nation. Caesar’s reply was to invite the Gauls to a feast to negotiate peaceful terms and guess what the high light of the meal happened to be, the plat de resistance? Yes! Coq au Vin! We can easily imagine how the Gauls immediately saw red like the wine in the sauce and how, galvanised by the outrage they won the battle of Alesia against Caesar and 30 000 legionnaires. That defeat however did not stop Caesar from becoming emperor.

As culture goes in France, the rooster was not only a warrior’s symbol of courage but too a Christian symbol displayed on the roof of most Catholic churches and on top of war monuments to signify the return to light from darkness: faith renewed.

As you understand by now, the French rooster is a major symbol and was even officialised under the Revolution in 1791 with a law proclaiming it “Symbol of Vigilance”. What may leave you confused though is that with such a prestigious status, the same bird often appears on the dining table as Coq au Vin (Rooster in Wine), one of our national dishes.

If you find the end of this story rather tragic, I may have just the thing to cheer you up: I found out that cockerels, like humans, communicate in different languages. Here are a few for you to try out, at home in your own country or on your next travel.

French: Cocorico!           Spanish: Quiquiriqui!          English: Cock-a-doodle-do!

Chinese: Keke li ke! (correct me if I’m wrong).             Iban: Engkukuk      Malayalam: Kokkarekoo

5 thoughts on “Rooster and Coq au Vin

  1. Hi Annie

    That is indeed a refreshing story. I went to read more about the Gauls and realised that it is a loose term of places that now represents France, Belgium and parts of Germany. That is huge. What is surprising is that Caesar went to war to cover his debts, Hahaha, instead of tightening his belt, he preferred war ( well, looks like we humans have never changed). Conquest in whatever form is crucial for the survival of an egoistic society.

    However, the crowing of the Rooster every morning signifies the breaking of dawn: light over darkness, good over evil. In fact, after I posted the picture yesterday, I thought we never know what the day would be like. Just like the Rooster, it never knows what that day would be like. Despite that, the Rooster will wake us up every day without fail.

    One of my friends has a brood of Hens and a Rooster. She is lucky to be woken up by Rooster, we don’t need an alarm clock:). In modern times, most of us may not have heard that sound, but it is indeed a beautiful sound.

    I had a bad experience with a Rooster chasing me when I was on my way to school. Hence I do have apprehension when I see a Rooster:). Happy morning to those who just woke up.

    1. Dear Beena,

      Loved your image of the rooster and your reply to Annie as well..

      Trying to imagine you being chased by a rooster😁..sorry its too funny..

      As a little girl…my daughter wanted a hen or a rooster as a pet as she saw many of them roaming around in a property on her way to school.

      At that time we lived in an apartment and so I told her that these birds like to roam free and would need thst exercise..and if we let them out..they may never come back…

      Her very serious solution to that was very creative (and hilarious for me). She said.. Amma let us make a cage with holes at the bottom for the legs and then we can tie a string and let the bird walk, while we hold on to the string. That way we can be sure it won’t go away.!!

      I always imagine that visual..😂😂

  2. Dear Annie,

    Lovely story by you with history, and humour thrown in..thank you for bringing a smile to my face… and if anyone heard strange sounds coming from me ..its me trying out all the different sounds made by roosters across the world as explained by you😂😂

    Love the reference to Asterix too as I am a great fan of Goscinny and Uderzo’s creation.

    Look forward to hearing more from you..and of course from Beena.

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