Friday, January 11, 2008

The Epiphany, and Why I Love The French

The Epiphany is a Catholic Holiday that signals the end of the Christmas celebration, and marks the day the three Kings of Orient finally decided to bring presents to the newly born Baby Jesus. Of course I had no idea about any of this until a few day ago when my friend and co-worker, Regine, after whom I named my truffle, told me I was to meet her at Patisserie Claude at 3:30 pm the next day. Though she did explain to me the reason for the meeting, due to her fragmented manner and fabulously thick French accent, I was still a little confused. As far as I understood I was to meet her, Jacque, and ‘the girls’ (whoever they were) at Claude’s and we were to eat cake while the youngest sat under the table. Hm? It was clear that I was missing something, but when Regine tells you to meet her somewhere, you meet her, and when she doesn’t make any sense, you don’t ask questions.

The next day, when I arrived at Claude’s, Regine was already in line picking up three cakes and Jacque was impatiently sitting at a table. “Hello Mado” he said leaning in and kissing me on both cheeks. It was clear from the cake boxes we would not be eating them on the premises. But where were we going and where were the girls. Regine came over to the table and started speaking to Jacque in French, they both seemed very anxious and were staring out the window. “ So,” I said reverting the attention back to our current circumstances, “ we are waiting for the girls, and then…” Regine turned her attention towards me while Jacque continued to look out the window, “ then we will go to the café” she told me, assuming that I knew the rest. “ And then what? “ I asked feeling like a simpleton. “Oh” Regine said putting her hand to her mouth, “ I thought you already knew. Oh, yes of course you don’t know…” she said looking at me with sympathy. Now realizing that I was a silly American who knew nothing of her French customs and mischief, Regine explained the whole thing to me in great detail.

Basically, the French have taken this highly religious holiday and used it as an excuse to eat cake, and that is why I love the French. Not just any cake however, Galette des Rois, which translates as, King’s Cake. Each Galette des Rois comes with its own paper crown, and inside each there is one fava bean – or now a days a figurine of some kind. According to tradition, the oldest is to cut the cake, and the youngest is to sit under the table and designate to whom each piece goes (this is to prevent cheating I suppose). Once distributed, everyone eats their slice of cake and whoever gets the bean is designated King for the day and gets to wear the paper crown.

Once 'the Girls' arrived, Anjel, her daughter Gala, and surprise guest Carlito, we were on our way to the cafe to kick some epiphany ass. Thanks to Global warming, the weather was pleasant enough for us to cut the cake outside. Jacque, being the oldest cut the cake and Gala, the youngest, sat under the table and designated the recipient of each slice. Once distributed, we all eat our cakes looking around curiously, each of us wondering who got the bean.
Once the cake was finished everyone looked at each other dumbfounded. "Who got the bean?" someone demanded. " Did we not get one?" another asked anxiously. At that moment Jacque began to smirk and we all knew we had found our King.
I must admit, I was more than heart broken when I finished my slice and no fava bean did I find. How I would have loved to wear the crown for a day and to boss everyone around.
Now I know what your thinking, and its not that way. The King was not dethroned, and I did not steal his crown. As it turns out, Jacque was a much more gracious King than I would have ever been and he decided to shared his crown with those of us less fortunate than he.

1 comment:

Horvendile said...

Bean or no bean, crown or no crown -- you're still royalty.