6 January 2019

Feast of Kings

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, and in France it is celebrated with a galette des rois. The tarte-like cakes begin to appear in pâtisserie and boulangerie windows in December and children adore this tradition where the youngest goes under the table and calls out each person's name to receive a slice. Whoever's parte contains the coveted fève - usually a small porcelain figurine of one of the gift-bearing Magi (although there are now many variations, including cartoon characters) - he/she will be crowned King or Queen and get to crown his/her King or Queen of choice, so every cake is (or should be) sold with two crowns. 

The galettes usually contain almond cream, crème frangipane, but upscale bakers have been creating away with pistachio cream (my current favorite) and other fillings trying not to stray far from the original. I've also made my own in the past - it's not difficult - and like to serve the cake warm, heated for a short time in the oven, never micro-waved so its crispiness remains intact.

Above: galettes des rois galore at Pâtisserie Gérard Mulot - 76 rue de Seine 75006


In Spain, La Fiesta de Los Reyes Magos upstages Christmas and is the big day of gifts for children. When I lived in Cadaqués, a magical white fishing village of artists and writers near the French border, from my balcony overlooking the bay we'd watch The Kings arrive by boat - Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar - where excited children would be waiting on the shore with lanterns then follow the Kings like The Pied Piper to the main plaza where, to music, dancing and feasting. the "kings" would distribute small gifts. - BPJ

Below: bay of Cadaqués Spain, evening; at a Los Reyes festival

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