Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Cake for the kings and me
Tomorrow is the Day of Epiphany, but yesterday I had my first ever Galette des Rois. Consisting primarily of flaky puff pastry and creamy almond paste, it was, as expected, delicious.
The January Sixth holiday is a religious celebration of Christ being visited by the Three Kings on the Twelfth Night. The French, appropriately, celebrate with pastry. It’s a relatively simple cake they make: frangipane (almond paste) inside puff pastry. Maybe a little egg and sugar, maybe some crème fraiche or Grand Marnier. It depends on the recipe and baker. But I’m quite certain all versions are delicious.
There are other strange traditions associated with this celebration that include plastic baby Jesuses being hidden inside the cake and small children hiding under the table, calling out names. But my first fete of the season was at the office, so fortunately there was just a lot of booze to wash down the cake and not a lot of awkward or religious fanfare.
In fact, I love that the French waste no time getting right back into it. I feel like, back home, everyone would have shifted to repent mode, eating carrot sticks and yogurt for lunch, doing Master Cleanses and hurrying out of work at 5:30 to hit the gym. But yesterday a couple creatives gathered money after lunch, went out to retrieve the cakes when they were fresh from the oven at 5ish, and started popping open the cider, wine and champagne at 5:30. Gummies and chocolate bars were also served. France, 1; America 0.