Fête des Rois

Fête des Rois

Those of you who have read Blame It on Paris know that I have some…memories…of the Fête des Rois. And if you want to make some of your own, now’s your chance. Well, officially January 6 was your chance, but I have been BUSY and DISTRACTED by truffles and other things, and so I forgot to mention it. That’s okay, though, because the French typically will celebrate the Fête des Rois any time they have a chance to get together for the entire month of January. Galettes des rois, may, in fact, be the primary nourishment of most French during this month. I know pâtisseries sell other things during January because, well, when I lived there in January they sold other things to ME, quite a few other things, in fact, but still…your average boulangerie-pâtisserie in France may sell nearly as many galettes as baguettes during the first month of the year, and that’s something. I am making this statistic up, but I am pretty sure.

If you are in France reading this, well, you don’t need my tips and you also DON’T need to post comments or send emails raving about Pierre Hermé’s galettes this year. That is so unkind. But if you are in the U.S. or outside Europe and you want to celebrate your own Fête des Rois, here’s what you do. First, check your surrounding area to see if there are any bakeries that make galettes des rois during January. In the U.S., you’re most likely to find one in a big city, but we are fabulously lucky in the Triangle area because an honest-to-goodness maître-boulanger from Lyon installed himself in Cary a couple of years ago.

He probably heard I was living here and figured he had a good market to corner.

Anyway, he is really good–he would be considered quite a good baker even in France, and he also does some excellent pâtisserie. For those of you in the Triangle, it is worth the drive to Cary, but keep in mind I told you about him and so you should bring me back something when you go: La Farm.

Make sure to check out his holiday goodies, in case bread alone does not tempt you enough. (Although the bread alone should.)

However, if you don’t have a galette-carrying bakery, you can still have fun! I don’t myself attempt to make traditional galettes des rois, but if you’re brave you can Google recipes. Otherwise, you can make your own favorite cake and insert a fève into it. You can do anything for a fève as long as it won’t break down in the cooking and release toxins and as long as it’s big enough you’ll notice it before it gets lodged in your throat. Some charm that your guest can keep is nice. (Note about La Farm–the galettes are absolutely wonderful. BUT neither I nor anyone I’ve recommended them to has yet to find a fève inside, we don’t know why, so if you get one there, be sure to get something for a fève and slip it inside before you serve.)

You bake the fève into your cake. Invite guests over. Make paper crowns or find a tiara at Party City. You’ll need two–one for the person who gets the fève and one for whoever that person chooses as consort. When you serve the cake at your party, the youngest person there gets under the table or otherwise hides his eyes and calls out who should get each piece while you cut the slices. This is because the fève often shows up in the process of cutting, so you want to keep it honest in terms of who gets it. The person who gets the fève is the King or Queen for the evening and can dance on tables and do anything he or she wants. Et voil� .

Now a common tradition in France is for the King or Queen to host another Fête des Rois with another galette the next weekend. I like this tradition. You get to eat a lot of galettes that way. Also, you get more chances to be crowned Queen, although I am having a bad run of luck there. Maybe I wasn’t meant to be Queen? That doesn’t make any SENSE, but still. It’s hard to avoid noticing that I have given Fate a lot of opportunities to indicate I am a Queen and Fate has taken not a single one of them.

I keep trying, though. I believe in persistence. It works better than non-persistence surprisingly often.

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