One of the coolest things about being in France is getting to experience the many little celebrations that I’ve never heard of before. Also, there’s not much I like more than little celebrations which involve cake. Bring on Epiphany!
The latest in the lineup of little celebrations is the Feast of the Epiphany which happened on January 6th. This holiday clearly has religious meaning, but I choose not to get too caught up in the religious aspect of it and spend all my energy focusing on the cake that comes with it.
The cake for Epiphany is called Le Galette des Rois and it is basically a round, puff-pastry tart with almond or apple filling inside. Also baked inside this cake is a little porcelain figurine, called a fève, that ends up in one piece of the cake when it is all sliced up. Whenever you buy this cake you are also given a paper crown to go with it.
Here’s what we knew about this cake before arriving in France: nothing.
We assumed that you just cut up the cake and whomever gets the fève gets to wear the crown. Of course, each time we bought the cake (nearly daily for a week) there was a lot of jockeying and peeking inside the cut pieces of cake to try to deduce which piece held the fève. This diminished from the overall joy of eating the cake, since there was always chaos surrounding the distribution of pieces. About mid way through our cake eating spree, we were finally set straight by a French friend. Apparently there are a specific set of rules for eating this cake which diminishes the chaos and boosts the enjoyment. Here are the official French rules:
1) the youngest person in the room sits under the table and the cake is then sliced into equal pieces for the number of people at the table
2) as the pieces are getting ready to be distributed, the youngest person calls out he name of the person to whom each piece of cake should go (no peeking!)
3) when all the pieces are doled out, everyone eats the cake and waits anxiously to see who gets the fève
4) once the fève is found, the person who finds it is considered the king (or queen) and then that person gets to choose a different person to wear the crown
Now that we know the official rules, eating the Galette des Rois is much more fun, however I still have yet to win the fève. Yesterday I found out that the cakes are being sold until the end of January at the bakeries. There is still hope for me.
Part of the fève party at our house with Remi le Radis leading the way.