Thursday, January 6, 2011

Epiphanie & Cie.

Since the Middle Ages, in celebration of the Epiphany (Kings' Day), French people traditionally eat Galettes des Rois. Galette des Rois is called King's Cake in English. Here is a song called J'aime la galette, meaning I Love Cake, that French kids sing on Kings' Day!

" J'aime la galette,
Savez-vous comment ?
Quand elle est bien faite
Avec du beurre dedans.
Trala la la la la la la lère,
Tra la la la la la la la la,
Tra la la la la la la la lère,
Tra la la la la la la la la."

Today was the 12th day after Christmas, the Epiphany. 
In my new hometown, Toronto, this Christian landmark is not as celebrated as in France.

Never mind. I still intend to bake my "galette des rois" for this coming Sunday as we have guests over for tea, that will be a good opportunity for them to discover a new tradition without choking on it, hopefully... ;O)

You don't have a clue what I am talking about... See what Clotilde says about the tradition, it should brighten up your wintry, snowy skies with the recipe of a buttery and fluffy galette!

"It is a typically French tradition to celebrate l'Epiphanie: this holiday celebrates the day on which the three kings Gaspard, Balthazar and Melchior came to pay their tribute to the world-famous baby born just a couple of weeks before. In French those wise men go by the cool name of Les Rois Mages (the Magi), and their first names are totally coming back in fashion these days, let me tell you. (Well, except maybe for Melchior, that's a tough one.)
Like many a Christian holiday, this one has lost its religious significance in most French families, gaining a sweeter, much more buttery one in the bargain: on the day of the Epiphany, families share a Galette des Rois, a flaked pastry pie filled with frangipane, a butter-rich, smooth mixture of crème d'amande (almond cream) and crème pâtissière (pastry cream)*.
The actual date on which to have the galette has gotten fuzzier and fuzzier: some families celebrate on the 6th, some on the first Sunday in January, but it's mostly considered fine to celebrate it all through the month of January. (I must however protest against the sale of galettes before the new year, and sometimes as soon as November. I mean, really.)
The fabulous thing about a Galette des Rois, apart from its deliciousness, is the family ritual that goes with it: the youngest child of the family hides under the table, an adult divides the galette in even slices, and the child calls out which slice goes to whom.
Why all the fuss you ask? Aah, it is just this small thing I haven't yet mentioned: la fève is hidden in the galette. Historically a dry fava bean (hence the name), it is now a little porcelain figure. (That figure used to have some kind of religious meaning but that, too, has gone the way of the dodo.) Whoever gets the fève in his serving is named King (or Queen) for the day, gets to wear the golden paper crown that came with the galette, picks who the Queen (or King) will be, and glows with pride for weeks hence." (From Chocolate & Zucchini)

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