Updated: Jan 8
VIVE LE ROI ! (Long life to the King!) VIVE LA REINE! (Long life to the Queen!)
Beginning of January (janvier), French bakeries are filled with la galette des rois. It's made of pâte feuilleté, puff pastry, and stuffed with a dense, creamy almond paste called frangipane. It's divine!
The History of la Galette des Rois comes from an ancient Roman Festival named Saturnalia. Romans were honoring Saturn, the Roman god for agriculture who symbolized the Golden Age. The forbidden activity of gambling was then allowed during the festivities. The tradition implied too to reverse the roles between master and slave. One slave was designated as “the king of the day”. To be designated, the cake was cut in as many as they were slaves and the youngest member of the family would determine which slice was for whom a cake with a bean (la fève) was hidden inside.
During the middle age, the time of the Galette was used during the time of feudal fees. It was a custom to give one Galette to his own master. La Galette des Rois was even celebrated at Louis XIV’s royal table! The Famous Sun King of Versailles.
Here is a French Ouh la la Netflix series "Versailles" that you should watch by the way if you missed it. It was filmed at Versailles Castle in Paris.
Due to famine in 1711, the Galette was forbidden so that flour only be used to make bread. But the Galette des Rois survived, especially outside Paris.
During the rough time of the French Revolution, the Galette des Rois became Galette de l’ Egalite, or Equality Cake. The day of the Kings became the day of the Sans-Culottes (meaning Without-Underwear), French Revolutionaries from lower classes. Sans-culottes believed in the ideology that all men were equal.
In 1801 the Concordat set the date of the Epiphany on the 6th of January, establishing the tradition of the Galette des Rois on a permanent basis in France.
This tradition exists since the 14th century, imagine it's nearly 600 years ago! It's served on January 6th to celebrate the Epiphany (a religious feast day commemorating the arrival of the Three Kings to the manger where Jesus was born). Today, it’s eaten throughout the month of January and is simply a festive way to celebrate the new year with family and friends, regardless of religious background.
How to eat the Galette des Rois following the French Tradition:
A small bean, coin, or porcelain fève is hidden inside the cake and the person who receives this lucky charm is then crowned king or queen for the day.
Bring this tradition to your home! Or start your fève collection like me!
Today the diversity of lucky charms is so important that people collect them. It is called “favophilie”.
Un petit haricot, une pièce ou une fève est cachée à l’intérieur du gâteau et la personne qui reçoit ce porte-bonheur est couronné roi ou reine du jour.
Apportez cette tradition chez vous! Ou commencez une collection de fève comme moi!
The cake should be divided such that each guest receives a slice, plus an extra, symbolic for any unexpected visitor, or poor person, that should pass by. (In my family my son gets it in the morning! Lucky him! Quel chanceux!)
Everyone has the opportunity to “tirer les rois,” – or “draw the kings” – from the cake.
The tradition wants that the youngest person hides under the table, perfect timing for hiding the fève (lucky charm) by inserting it under the cake. Then the child calls out the name of the person to receive each slice so the server can't be accused of playing favorites!
QUI SERA LE ROI? QUI SERA LA REINE? (Who will be the King, who will be the Queen?)
Time to seat at the table and the person who discovers the fève is declared le roi (the king) or la reine (the queen) and gets to wear the golden paper couronne (crown) that comes with the cake. In some families, le roi or la reine gets to choose a royal counterpart and is tapped to buy the next galette des rois.
The king Cake celebration is feasted in France, Switzerland, Belgium, Quebec, and Lebanon. The King's cake is observed in the States thanks to New Orleans during the Carnival Time.
Where to find in L.A area the Galette des Rois:
My 2 favorite French-owned Bakeries - pâtisseries:
If you are in L.A, Beverly, Los Feliz, Tarzana, Burbank or Pasadena order it here: https://pitchounbakery.com/
If you are in Long Beach (inside Gelson @ PCH), La Canada Flintridge, or Santa Barbara, order it here: https://renaudsbistro.com/
I already ordered two at Renaud's and they will do it till the end of February... so it might well be my Valentine Cake! I so adore it! J'adore trop!
If you are in Newport Beach, go to MOULIN
If you are in Torrance or Redondo Beach, go to Eclair & Cafe
A helpful Video: Une galette des rois facile : suivez le guide! An easy recipe! http://www.marmiton.org/video/video_une-galette-des-rois-facile-suivez-le-guide_453727.aspx
à très bientôt!