Holiday HangoverJanuary 8, 2007 at 1:37 pm | Posted in food, vie quotidienne | 3 Comments
Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years… The holiday season is dead and gone, with not a hint of revelry on the horizon until Valentine’s Day, right? Ah, but that’s because you don’t know about La Fête des Rois.
Even as a kid, I always thought of La Fête des Rois as a sort of “hangover holiday,” not because there’s any drinking involved, but because it seemed like a sort of nicotine patch for celebration addicts, allowing sugar-saturated kids a way to wean themselves slowly off the adrenaline rush of the holiday season.
Theoretically, this holiday exists in America, too — usually known as Twelfth Night or Epiphany. Officially, it marks the arrival of the three kings/wisemen in Bethlehem to worship the baby Jesus, but in most American households, it’s little more than a reminder to take down that tree before the living room carpet becomes completely obscured by pine needles.
In France, however, it’s a bonafide holiday with its own traditions — foremost of which is the Galette des Rois:
This round, sweet puff pastry is usually filled with an almond paste called frangipane.
The galettes used to be made with a fève or bean cooked inside, and whoever found the bean was made king for the night.
Nowadays, the “fève” is usually a hunk of plastic in the shape of some totally inappropriate cultural icon.
As you can see from the label, this is Mme Agecanonix, a minor character from the much beloved Asterix comic books. Mme Agecanonix is a fictional character from a Pagan society — the status-hungry trophy-wife to the oldest man in town. What does she have to do with the Christ-child’s royal visitors? Beats me.
Even weirder was the fève from last year’s cake:
Who knew the French had even heard of the Academy Awards? I was happy, though: come February, it made a great cake-topper for my Oscar party.
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