Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pastry Epiphany

Three wise men, traversing the sands of ancient times in search of  a prophet sent from the heavens to guide them into future harmony... Little did they know that in addition to crucifixion, crusades, and holly jolly Christmas, they would be leaving another legacy in their footsteps... "La Galette Des Roi" or "French King Cake"... I have never before been in France in January, so I honestly never knew about this time honored tradition. Though I was raised Catholic, I have long since discarded the shroud of hypocrisy in search of more cosmic inspirations. That does not, however, mean that I don't still find fascinating the stories of old, the Christmas carols that I grew up with, and the magic that enthralls any tale of hope. I know the story of the Three Kings, understand the Epiphany, and respectfully celebrate through my raging holiday spirit.

But this cake was something previously unheard of until a mere day ago, when I picked up one of my younger students from school and his mother proceeded to explain to me why he was wearing a paper crown on his head. Realizing that I was not familiar with the tradition, she explained that this cake is a well-known custom in France, and while available in December as well, reaches a peak during January, when every patisserie in town will have it on display. Cake shmake, I love me some pastry, but what makes this specific treat so appealing? Well, not only do you get to wear a paper crown, but you are rewarded as king upon finding "la fève" in one of the pieces cut. Originally a bean when the tradition began, "la fève"is now a porcelain or plastic toy, cherished gift identifying the king. 

Crown... Toy... Cake... Perhaps I am a mere idiot for not having been privy to this tradition before, but I do wonder how I managed to miss out on such an obvious necessity for 33 years.  Needless to say, I not only bypassed my local bakery to buy one at a grocery store because I did not see any crowns at the patisserie, but I clearly stabbed the cake several times to find my precious little talisman without having to eat every bite... Cheater shmeater, I am king!!!

(Proceed to this link if you're interested in further info/history! )


  1. All hail the great Queen Angel, discoverer of that mystical talisman piggie! At least I think that's a piggie...

    1. It's actually a little bear, haha... Merci, Mademoiselle!!!