Sunday, 6 January 2008

Happy epiphany - fêtez les Rois!

The photo is of a delicious galette des rois from our local bakery, the boulangerie de la Fontaine in Ferney - about 40 paces from our front door. For epiphany the tradition is to hide a "fève" (literally a bean, but these days more likely a small ceramic trinket). You cut the galette into the number of people about to eat it and one person gets the portion with la fève and they get to be crowned king or queen and also to choose their "consort" for the second crown.
However, if you have ever tried to cut up a soft cake with a hard piece of porcelaine hiding in it you will know that the knife will often hit the porcelaine so there is also a tradition for deciding who gets which piece. The youngest person in the family hides beneath the table as the pieces are distributed and says who should get which piece - they don't know where the fève is of course. My neighbour, a young working mother of three trilingual young boys, has developed her own method, she saves the fèves and crowns from one year to the next and stuffs several extra into the galette so that noone is too unhappy.
It's a lovely tradition, a hidden secret treasure in the cake to celebrate the kings. And the frangipane filling is of course delicious, but you can also get apple or raspberry fillings and in the south of France a brioche-style galette is more traditional. All go well with a glass of champagne of course but we had ours twice over at brunch time today with coffee and tea. Olive and then three-year old Pauline were our successive queens. It's a good and simple excuse for inviting friends over in the new year. You can eat galette until the end of January.