Saturday, September 29, 2012

Galette des Rois

When I arrived in France as a foreign exchange student around six years ago, it was January.  I soon discovered that the best thing about France in January, besides the "soldes" or sales, is the "Galette des Rois" or Cake of the Kings.  As a high school student at a Catholic school, I took French and for "Mardi Gras" or Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, we celebrated with King Cake at our cafeteria.  It was sans flavor, covered in crazy colorful sugar, and had a rubber baby Jesus in it.  

My mom always used to make pancakes for Shrove Tuesday.  She would hide a penny, button, religious medal, and ring in the pancakes.  Whoever got the penny would be rich, the button would be poor (or maybe it was a bachelor or tailor), the religious medal would be a priest or nun, and the ring would be married first.  I think this might be an Irish Catholic thing, because I don't know that many people who did that for Mardi Gras.

In France for Mardi Gras, I discovered that kids run around throwing eggs and flour at each other. You make crepes that night for dinner, which is why teenagers throw the ingredients at one another.  It was pretty hilarious to see actually.  Anyway, Galette des Rois is a flaky pastry filled with some sort of almond paste that you can only get in January in France as it is part of the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6.  There is a porcelain "fève" or charm in it, usually a part of the creche like Mary, Joseph, a wise man, or the man of the hour himself, and the person whose piece of cake has the fève is king for the day and gets to wear a paper gold crown.  

Galette des Rois

Galettes des Rois with crowns and fèves

Galette des Rois from Financier in NYC

We brought it to a dinner party last January

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