And You Thought The Holidays Were Over

10 01 2009

In France, they keep it coming right on through January.  The holidays, I mean.

Galette des Rois

First, there’s Epiphany, on January 6th.  This is the traditional day to eat Galette des Rois, or Kings’ Cake.  So named for the three kings who supposedly arrived in Bethlehem a couple weeks late for Jesus’ birthday, the pastry itself is a simple but delicious round of puff pastry filled with almond cream (aka frangipane).  The top of the galette is scored in a decorative pattern (just ask me how!) and there is a “bean” (while it’s called a bean, it is usually some kind of ceramic figure or charm) hidden inside which gives the finder the privilege (or punishment) of wearing the little paper crown that comes wrapped around the galette.  I have recently learned that nowadays, instead of waiting for the actual date of Epiphany to roll around, the French celebrate with their galettes des rois on the first Sunday of the month, which explains why I spent 6 hours last Saturday making them.  You might think that the galette madness would be over by now, but it seems to be going strong and I am told that it continues through the whole month of January.

Check out all the flaky, buttery layers!

Speaking of January, the other important national “holiday” going on is Les Soldes – The Sales!  Twice a year, in January and June) French stores are allowed to reduce their prices as much as they want.  This is supposed to even the playing field between large companies and small businesses, but I’m not really sure how.  Nor do I much care, if it means I can afford to shop at Galeries Lafayette.  In terms of work, Les Soldes don’t affect me as much, although there is definitely an impact on my paycheck.  Heh.  It’s going to be another busy month.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

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11 responses

10 01 2009
Lissa

Yum. I think this is my new favorite French dessert. It’s not too sweet and I’m a sucker for anything traditional. Plus, I found the ‘bean’ in the galette we had last week at work… which apparently not only means queen for the day, but also that I now need to bring in a galette for everyone to share. That’s the cycle that keeps the business going all month – until everyone is sick of it, I guess. As far as the sales go, I have yet to have the courage. But my desparate need for a good kitchen knife pushes me on. Maybe this week during the day – do you think there will be fewer crowds? Probably not.

11 01 2009
Hopie

I wondered if you were drowning in thoughts of galette des rois. I was thinking of you when I had one the other day ;-)

11 01 2009
croquecamille

Lissa – Ah. That explains it. :)

Hopie – Yeah, it’s been a real galette-fest of late. Maybe I will see daylight in February. ;)

12 01 2009
Gfron1

that’s very pretty. Thanks for posting it. Of course, nothing like the traditional US King Cake which will start popping up any day now for Mardi Gras office parties.

12 01 2009
Sam

Is this the same thing as a Pithivier? I made one only a few days ago but had no idea it was traditional for January!

12 01 2009
croquecamille

Gfron1 – While they may have the same origins, the US king cake is a vastly different animal. I’ve been trying to explain it to my French colleagues, who are generally horrified.

Sam – Yes, although I’ve only ever heard it called “pithivier” outside of France!

13 01 2009
Colleen

Oh, when I first moved to Paris it was January, and this was my first intro to the French holidays. The other was Les soldes, or in Stockholm, the Sluts. I’m not kidding. The Swedish word for sale is slut (pronounced sloot). Very confusing at first with huge signs proclaiming SLUTS! SLUTS! SLUTS! on H&M. Anyway, thanks for giving me a nostalgic smile…and o.d. on les galettes for me.

13 01 2009
croquecamille

That’s awesome.

14 01 2009
Betty C.

There are galettes showing up at my workplace virtually every day! Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I don’t care for them that much — especially cold!

16 01 2009
Michele

You made the galette in your photos?! Lovely. I have been wondering whether most French buy a galette or make it at home. Recipe?

16 01 2009
croquecamille

Michele – I may or may not have made that particular galette, but I made/have been making/will continue to make dozens like it this month. As for the recipe, I’m pretty sure it’s proprietary, but handmade puff pastry makes all the difference. :)




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