"The evolving Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Let them eat cake"

Galette des Rois

Otherwise known as the "King" cake, it is a served during the Epiphany. Although Christmas is celebrated in France and throughout Europe, the month of January is a very special month for most French.  In the U.S., we typically exchange Holiday greetings by sending Christmas cards, Hanukkah cards, Kwanzaa etc. before Christmas.  In France, it is more typical to send New Year's greeting cards any time in January.

The "king cake" is a Catholic tradition from the biblical 3-Kings that states that their journey to Bethlehem took twelve days; hence the "Twelve days of Christmas" to honor the Christ Child on Epiphany. In some places, this "cake season" can occur every week through carnival season to Mardi Gras.

Alexandre found the fève
Although the cakes are different depending on what region of France or country, for example in Louisiana it's more like a colorful fruitcake, basically, the cake, which is usually a layer of puff pastry filled with frangipane  and it has a fève, (originally a small French bean) baked into the cake.  Although it is still called a fève  it has since been replaced by a small trinket often a small ring, a small ceramic trinket,or a plastic baby Jesus inside, the person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket will become the "king or queen" of the day. In some places, it has various privileges and obligations such as being responsible for buying the cake for the next celebration.

 The tradition:  (condensed from the "Slow Travel France")

  • Gather friends and family around the kitchen table.
  • Nominate one person (typically the youngest, or at least the most flexible) to crawl under the table and act as "le main innocent" (innocent hand).
  • Nominate someone else (typically the oldest, or at least the most honest) to act as the "distributeur des parts" (distributor of the cake).
Everyone eagerly waiting for the cake to be distributed

  • Serve the galette, in French we say "tirer les rois". (draw the kings). The distributeur cuts the galette into slices that are held up one by one and served to the person named by the child under the table. This elaborate process ensures a random distribution of the fève.
  • Proceed to lovingly devour the galette, perhaps with a glass of cider or two. 99 times out of 100, someone will suddenly announce that they have found the fève (and hopefully that they still have all their teeth). 1 time out of 100, well, we won't get into that.
  • Crown the finder king or queen, using the paper crown which is usually included with your purchase of the galette.
C'est moi, one of the royals for the evening
The Epiphany is above all, a great excuse to get together and enjoy a scrumptious dessert and with family and friends.

Searching for the feve
 If you cannot find a "galette des rois" at your bakery, see this attached link from baker extrodinaire, Dorie Greenspan.  Recipe for galette des rois.

Happy New Year! Bonne Année!

1 comment :

  1. Looks great Can't wait to be back for good in Paris Bill and Dan