Friday, January 6, 2012

galette des rois.


Today is the traditional date of the Epiphany! This is the day recognized when the Three Kings (Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar), led by the great star in the sky, arrive at the stable in Bethlehem to greet the baby Jesus. They bring Him gifts of frankincense, gold, and myrrh, and they worship this new, little King, Our Savior.

The French have a delicious tradition for the Epiphany called the galette des rois, or 'Kings' cake'. This, unfortunately and like so many other originally religious traditions and feast days, has become secularized and commercialized in French culture. Every bakery sells dozens of galettes in the days leading up to the Epiphany, and for weeks after as well.

There is a very particular procedure for eating a galette des rois. There is a little figurine baked somewhere inside the cake, called la fève. It used to be a fava bean, which is where the name comes from, but now it is more commonly a little porcelain figure. Whoever finds the figurine in their slice of cake is named the king (or queen). The expression for serving this cake is tirer les rois, and it is cut into enough slices for each guest, plus one. This extra slice is called the "Virgin's slice", the "Good Lord's slice", or the "poor man's slice", and is traditionally reserved for the first beggar to come to the door. As the cake is being sliced, the youngest child hides under the table and shouts out names of the guests, indicating who each slice is to go to. This insures that there is a fair distribution of the slices, especially for the fève.

So even though the Church liturgically recognizes the Epiphany this Sunday (always the first Sunday of January), I decided to have a little soirée to share a galette des rois with some friends today, to celebrate the Epiphany and the start of the 2nd half of our year! We cut the cake, enjoyed some almond-y deliciousness, and my friend Laïa found the fève! She wore her crown proudly for the rest of the night :)

la fève

i wasn't exactly the queen, but i can still wear the crown!!!

pax christi.

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