Here in France, January is a time of after Christmas blues, new year’s resolutions and GALETTE.
If is your first January in Paris, don’t start your new year, new me diet yet because you are most certainly going to have a cheat day, or a cheat week with the galettes floating around. They are irresistible.
So what is Galette des rois and why does it appear in every bakery and supermarket in France during the month of January? Well, the Galette des rois is a cake traditionally shared on January 6th (at Epiphany) to celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men in Bethlehem.
The galette is composed of a puff pastry cake, with a small trinket, the fève, hidden inside. It is usually filled with frangipane, a cream made from sweet almonds, butter, eggs and sugar but chocolate or apple are also available. Whoever finds the fève inside the cake becomes “King” for the day and gets to wear the crown that comes with the galette. Traditionally the youngest person will go under the table and after the cake has been sliced up, he or she will say who gets which piece. That way there is no way to cheat!
According to the French embassy’s website there is a very special tradition at the Elysée Palace:
Every year, during the traditional reception at the Elysée Palace, an enormous galette (measuring 1.2 m across for 150 people) is made for the President of the French Republic. But the artisan baker and pastry chef responsible for making it is instructed not to put a fève in the cake because “it would not be appropriate to find a king in the presidential palace of the Republic”.
Galettes are available in bakeries and supermarkets all over France and can be bought for between 2 and 10 people! Although supermarkets sell them I would definitely recommend getting one from a local, popular bakery. You will taste the difference!