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The Feast of the three Kings

January 4, 2012

If you are in France in January you will have a chance to try the “Galette des Rois”, the traditional French cake (served on the first Sunday following January 1st) for the Epiphany, but eaten throughout the month of January.

Also known as le jour des Rois, the Epiphany is the day when the three kings visited baby Jesus. From the Middle Ages, the epiphany has been celebrated with a special Twelfth Night cake, literally called the King’s cake.

Under Louis XIV, the Church considered this festival as a pagan celebration and as an excuse for indulgence, and it was subsequently banned. To get around this ban, it became la fête du bon voisinage (‘neighbourly relations day’). This culinary tradition even survived the French Revolution when it became the ‘Gâteau de l’Egalité (the equality cake).

Depending on the region, the cake comes in different varieties: it can be made of puff pastry or like a brioche, some are filled with almond paste (frangipane), and others are decorated with candied fruits. But what sets the galette des rois apart from other cakes is the fève inside, or even two, which can be a real fava bean or a figurine.

The lucky one who finds the charm is then crowned king or queen. Each cake comes with two crowns as well—one for the king or queen and the other for his queen or her king, whom they choose by dropping the trinket into their glass.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2012 8:30 am

    So now I will look up a recipe so I can join in the celebration.

  2. January 21, 2012 5:40 pm

    Hi, didn’t know about the trinket in the glass! Another tradition a lot of French families follow is that the youngest child goes under the table and indicates which piece is for which person.

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