The first days of January are so miserable, aren’t they, when everyone goes back to work with the prospect of only miserable, cold days until March? We take the Christmas decorations down, the tree goes out and the lights go off. So I embrace this French tradition of celebrating Epiphany and the arrival of the three wise men with a huge amount of enthusiasm. A Galette des Rois is held on the afternoon of the nearest Sunday to 6th January. People in France even have Galettes des Rois in their workplaces, such is, I believe, the need for something cheerful at this time of year.
A Galette consists traditionally of a crown-shaped pastry case with almondy, buttery frangipane filling but shops in France also make them in other varieties including pear and chocolate. Today’s recipe was Nigella Lawson’s from How to be a Domestic Goddess, but I think I prefer her recipe from Feast, which I have made previously and, as it includes eggs, is richer and more luscious. Galette des Rois is consumed with Champagne, so it’s even more welcome in my house.
Inside the Galette is hidden a ceramic fève or bean, which can often be a cartoon character. Ours today was a little figure of Michel de L’ Hospital. The youngest person present then sits under the table and decides the order in which the slices of Galette should be handed around. Crazy guys, the French.
The person whose slice contains the fève is king or queen for the day and has to wear the crown. This afternoon it was the Boywonder, who had just arrived home from work in his shop of shiny things. I think it’s jolly way of starting the new year and marking the end of the Christmas festivities as long as you don’t have to make an emergency dentist’s appointment, that is.