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King Cake and The French Foreign Legion

Jo Anne Wilson, Letters From FranceThe latest iteration of the holiday festivities is upon us. The King Cake or Galette du Roi.  It’s a type of flakey pastry cake, which, traditionally, celebrates the Epiphany and is sold in most bakeries during the month of January. The flaky puff pastry has layers with a dense center of frangipane/ almond paste.

Tradition says that the cake is “to draw the kings” to the Epiphany. A figurine, la fève, which can represent anything from a car to a cartoon character, is hidden in the cake and the person who finds the trinket in their slice becomes king for the day and will have to offer the next cake. Originally, la fève was literally a broad bean (fève), but it was replaced in 1870 by a variety of figurines out of porcelain or — more recently — plastic. For an excellent description and more photos and details, click on this link: http://bonjourparis.com/story/la-galette-des-rois-twelfth-night-cake

In my previous post,  I promised more information on the tradition of the crèches at the French Foreign Legion post. While looking for a bit of background information, I came across a blog post done by a couple who live in the area, in the village of Ménerbes. Here I quote: “Once a year, high up on the plateau near Apt and in the heart of the lavender belt, is the French Foreign Legion Engineers Head Quarters, and they throw their gates open for the general public to view their Christmas ‘crèches’ – each Sections’ interpretations of the Legion and Christmas. The Saint-Christol base is situated in the old nuclear missile storage site; it is a vast complex of buildings, underground tunnels, forests of satellite dishes, and general military paraphernalia.

“There were nine crèches in total and these are accessed by walking down long passages manned by friendly but very fit legionnaires and non-commissioned officers. Each one has a distinctive theme and is accompanied by a video, commentary in the guttural Legion French, and often personal performances.”  With credit to Simon and Lovonne Burrows, follow this link to see their photographs and more explanation: http://livingstylishlywell.com/2013/12/24/christmas-creches-french-foreign-legion/

Back on a personal note, I continue to resume my more normal existence. I’ve rejoined the local fitness center and am attending classes. I’ve done one long hike with the Tuesday group, as well as shorter walks with friends. I’m also determined to give more frequent blog posts.  Until next time … A Bientôt.

  • Evelyn

    The YouTube video describing how to make a King’s cake is very well done! It is fun to read about traditional activities.

  • Jo Anne

    Thanks Evelyn, I have not seen it. There is a LOT of information on the Internet.

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