The exact origin of “lu cûh’née” is unknown, but it is certainly a very old tradition, because an article from the year 1890 mentions it as a rural custom.
“Cûh’ner” (pronounced ‘cush nay’) is a Walloon word, meaning more or less ‘cooking’ and from this verb, up to today, the name for a quite particular dish has developed, i.e. “cûh’née.” In Malmedy one speaks also of making a “cûh’née.”
In former times one ate “cûh’née” at potato picking time, i.e. in the months of September, October and November. The meal that was often coupled with a celebration took place in the fields or on the hills where the potatoes were cultivated. A fire was made, and as soon as only the glow remained, one let the potatoes ‘cook and split open’ (in Walloon “petter les crompîres”).
Over the years, the recipe for “cûh’née” has changed little. The potatoes are prepared as jacket potatoes, cut in two halves and salted and peppered. Then some more butter is added. One eats them together with pickled herrings and onions (fried in butter or raw and finely chopped). In addition – depending upon taste – a beer or a Peket (Liege Jenever – a form of Gin) is the perfect companion.
Today, however, the people of Malmedy cook “cûh’née” mostly at home in the family or among friends. In addition, it lives on as a tradition in different groups and organizations. For example, music associations, choirs or various clubs meet up in a hall, and after a big meal of “cûh’née” they end the evening by playing games or dancing.