In France, Epiphany, which falls on the sixth day of January, is celebrated in true French style – with food. From mid-December through to the end of January, countless versions of the delicious galette des rois pop up in boulangerie windows and on supermarket shelves all over the country.
These delectable pastry treats come in two main varieties, apple, or frangipane, the latter holding a firm first place in my book. I can still recall my first Epiphany spent in France. The adorable five-year-old boy that I looked after raced into the kitchen after school sporting a paper crown and proudly presenting his fève – a tiny porcelain figure that is hidden inside one slice of the cake. ‘Je suis le roi! Je suis le roi!’ he explained excitedly to his two year old brother, who to his credit, responded with wide-eyed appreciation.
Later that evening, Max and I attended a party at the home of a friend. I had managed for weeks to ignore the temptation to try a piece of galette, (a task akin to resisting the purchase of hot cross buns in February) instead waiting for the proper sense of occasion to have my first taste. We drank cider and chatted as I waited excitedly for the main event.
I chose frangipane, figuring that anything that shares most of its ingredients with a croissant aux amandes can’t be bad, and I was not disappointed. It was so delicious, so more-ish that I had to force myself to eat slowly, remembering that choking on the fève would not be a good way to make friends.
Alas, no fève for me. I was doing a brilliant job of masking my disappointment, telling myself that it was for the best really, as the feve must surely taint the taste of the cake (wisdom gleaned from watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), when Max discovered the elusive fève hidden deep within his (second) slice.
I was just entering the early stages of what can only be described as serious poor-sportsmanship when Max ever so kindly proffered his prized crown for me to wear. And, I’m a little ashamed to admit, I grabbed it gleefully and wore it with an obscene amount of pride. But can you blame me? After all, who doesn’t want to be king for a day?
Galette des Rois image courtesy of u m a m i on Flickr.
Fève image courtesy of yuichi.sakuraba on Flickr.