The word is from a Swiss French term originating in the 18th century derived from the Swiss German word Kakel meaning an earthenware casserole. The term is in common use throughout Switzerland, and in the Franche-Comté and Provence regions of France.
The bottom of a caquelon requires a thickness sufficient to prevent burning of the melted cheese when the vessel is placed over a spirit burner at the table. Nevertheless, an encrusted layer of cheese forms on the bottom called the Grossmutter in German, La Religieuse in French, which is released when the fondue has been consumed and is shared between the diners.
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- Dictionnaire historique de la langue française, Dictionnaires Le Robert, Paris