Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Epiphanie et les galettes des rois

I can't quite believe that this blog is just over three years old and we have been living in France on a permanent basis for nearly 5 years and two years part time before that! It is time again to be thankful for treasures in France.
It is said that The three kings ... Wise Men from the East ... the Magi ... arrived on the Twelfth Night to celebrate the birth of Jesus and the date for this epiphany was set by Pope Julius II but like many religious festivals traditions this feast day is also rooted in Paganism and Roman Saturnalia. Oh joy that such feasts exist!

In France it is time for Les Galettes du Roi - from now until Shrove Tuesday when Les Crêpes supplant them!

When Louis XIV was King he decided it was pagan to indulge in the consummation of such Twelfth Night mediaeval cakes. He banned them. However, the discerning French peoples found a way around this and redefined the reason for baking, saying it was neighbourly to share such cakes and when there were no more "Kings of France" it was renamed a cake of Equality.

I prefer the Brioche galettes des rois because they contain crystallised fruits. These are Provençal. The puff pastry galettes des rois are filled with frangipane but often one cannot detect the marzipan at all! Inside these cakes for 4, 6, 8 persons, there is hidden a fève / a bean, nowadays a ceramic lucky charm. If you have it in your slice of cake then you are the king or queen for the day and can wear the crown. In shops and at vide greniers you can buy the fèves as some are collectable. We have heard one story that says the bean was often swallowed to avoid the winner buying a round of drinks!!! In the childrens' group, whoever won the charm had to bring a cake the following week!


We have in recent days spoken to French people in French and been able to converse, to be understood and to understand. The French person knows how to profit from every day and every occasion. Each day there is a lesson to be learned.

No comments: