It’s the 6th January, Epiphany or Twelfth Night and time to enjoy the ritual of the Kings’ Cake. This is not really a cake but a delicious flaky pastry confection with a marzipan filling and hiding a secret. From now until the end of the month boulangeries will be full of them – a last fling of end-of-year excess before the dismal days of January. As our Walksweeks guests know well, we can rely on Marie and her husband, who run the boulangerie patisserie in Arlebosc, to come up with a particularly yummy galette.
Once you get your galette home there is a specific ritual to be followed. The youngest member of the party has to hide under the table whilst it is cut into the same number of portions as there are people present. (In the past an extra portion was cut, to be given to the first needy person to knock at the door). The cutter asks “c’est pour qui?” and the voice under the table indicates the recipient of each slice.
It is advisable to eat your portion carefully, so as not to break a tooth on the little porcelain figurine which lurks in the marzipan. The lucky recipient of the fève – which was once literally a dried bean – is designated king or queen for the day, wears the crown which is sold with the galette and is allowed to boss everyone around all day – guess who won ours!!
The tradition is a very old one, apparently deriving from the Romans and with obvious links to the reversal of roles of the twelve days of Christmas and the Lord of Misrule.
Since 1975 a Galette de l’Elysée has been presented to the President of France at his official residence, the Elysée Palace. However this one does not contain a fève, and sends a clear message that, although he may be occupying a palace, he is definitely not a king and should not be getting any ideas!
Markus take note!!