Galette des Rois — Catholic Cultural Appropriation?

And, where to Get the Galette des Rois in Paris? 

You’d think that after the whole Christ­mas-New Year eat­ing marathon, Jan­u­ary would be the time to final­ly lay off the ~lit­er­al~ sauce and I dun­no, do inter­mit­tent fast­ing or some­thing? Well, France, as always, likes to com­pli­cate things, this time by offer­ing yet anoth­er del­i­ca­cy right in the first week of January. 

Almost always round, always sweet, and filled with a faint promise of long-term hap­pi­ness (so it’s basi­cal­ly me after all that fes­tive time, LOL pickme pickme pickme), its form and ingre­di­ents are vari­able. What they all share is a fève — a small porce­lain fig­urine, some­times rep­re­sent­ing none oth­er than the O.Z.G (Orig­i­nal Zom­bie Gangs­ta) Him­self, baby Jesus — and find­ing it promis­es year-long luck (unless you break a tooth on it, I guess).

And this being Paris, there’ll be Galettes des Rois aplen­ty, so to spare you from try­ing all of them around the city, we’ve round­ed up some of our faves for you to indulge in. But first…

Work Off the Carbs with this History

La Galette des Rois (« Kings’ Tart ») is named after the bib­li­cal Magi and is tra­di­tion­al­ly eat­en on the Epiphany (in 2023 this is Fri­day the 6th of Jan­u­ary). The idea itself dates back to the freaky, poly­the­is­tic, Roman empire (as, like, every Catholic hol­i­day ever), specif­i­cal­ly, Sat­ur­na­lia — an atyp­i­cal day where the roles between mas­ters and their ser­vants were reversed. (NOTE: This is NOT a BDSM ref­er­ence.)

Of course, the French wouldn’t be them­selves if they didn’t asso­ciate that tra­di­tion with the (ugh!) monar­chy. That’s why dur­ing the French rev­o­lu­tion the galette was near­ly banned. Suc­cess­ful rebrand­ing was issued instead, with the new name being the “Equal­i­ty Cake” and with the baby Jesus replaced with a Phry­gian cap (yes, the very same one as the Paris 2024 mas­cot). So we were ‘𝓦𝓸𝓴𝓮’ even before the exe­crable Tuck­er Carl­son pulled him­self up by his unsul­lied bootstraps. 

Nowa­days, the tra­di­tion dic­tates to cut the cake into as many slices as there are guests (plus one because The Elf on the Shelf Jesus is Always Watch­ing) and for the youngest per­son to pass under the table and blind­ly allo­cate every piece around. (Again — big sigh — 𝓦𝓸𝓴𝓮). The per­son find­ing the fève is giv­en the paper crown and gets to be the King of the day (please, don’t behead any­one but please feel free to take like 200 con­cu­bines).

Okay, but what’s the fuss about, exactly?

The Galette des Rois, in the sim­plest ver­sion, is made out of a gold­en flaky pas­try with frangi­pane fill­ing (link to recipe below); but let’s face it: sim­plic­i­ty is over­rat­ed. Espe­cial­ly in Paris, where all the pas­try chefs try to out­do them­selves in order to please the angry mob hun­gry crowd. 

Depend­ing on the pâtissier, you may find it made with brioche instead of puff pas­try, with choco­late, vanil­la or pis­ta­chio fill­ing, with fresh or dried fruits on top…You get it.

Basi­cal­ly any pâtis­serie or boulan­gerie will make their own ~slight­ly spe­cial~ ver­sion, but if you want to check out our faves, with­out fur­ther ado, here’s the list:

Galette des Rois — 2023 Edition

Bo&Mie: An acces­si­ble trendslut

This cre­ative bak­ery decid­ed to make a puff pas­try galette with peanut frangi­pane cream, a home­made peanut pra­line, and caramelized peanuts on top.

Pho­to: Boet­mie on Instagram

Boulan­gerie Cham­bel­land: A galette for all

Known as the first gluten-free bak­ery in Paris, it pro­pos­es a square ver­sion of cake with almond and a touch of rum. Alter­na­tive­ly, here you can try the Couronne des Reines (“Queens’ Crown”) that’s veg­an and filled with can­died orange, gin­ger, and cherries.

Pho­to: boulan­geriecham­bel­land­paris on Insta­gram / chambelland.com

Land&Monkeys: From the south-side

THE veg­an chain in Paris bases their galette on a ver­sion of it com­ing from South­ern France — with brioche dough, orange flower blos­som, rum, can­died orange and lemon zest. 

Pho­to: land_and_monkeys on Instagram

Antho­ny Courteille / Sain Boulangerie

Mr. Courteille does it again with a flaky and ‘healthy’ Galette des Rois. Well, I’ll take it. 

Pierre Her­mé: Tra­di­tion with a twist

One of the best-known French pas­try chefs pro­pos­es a galette with puff pas­try, pis­ta­chio almond cream and a pis­ta­chio pra­line top.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screenshot-2023-01-05-at-12.35.51-1.png

Pho­to: Pierreherme.com

The French Bas­tards: Not your usu­al take on the galette

Known for their choco­late cruffins, the guys decid­ed to cre­ate a “Cruf­fin des Rois”, a cocoa crois­sant dough with choco­late ganache, almond cream, and a choco­late frangi­pane fill­ing. Like a Galette des Rois 2.0 — Don’t let your #LOL inter­fere with your #FOMO, here…

Pho­to: the_french_bastards on Instagram

Mai­son Lan­de­maine: Last (minute) but not least 

With more than a dozen loca­tions across Paris, you won’t have any excuse to miss their reverse puff pas­try cake with almond crème, pecan nuts and maple syrup.

Pho­to: maisonlandemaine.com

If it’s your first time and you’re only dip­ping your toes in the water, we real­ly do rec­om­mend the tra­di­tion­al one. Just don’t for­get to wash it all down with a bot­tle (or two) of cider!

Small insid­er tip — if you go out to eat the cake in a café and do get the luck-bring­ing fève, you can go and claim a free piece. Bonne chance!

OG Paris kitchen­flu­encer David Liebowitz has his own recipe here, if you are feel­ing frisky…

Con­trib­u­tors: Emil­ia Andrejczuk, Natask­ia Van Dam, Flavia Schep­mans, Kat Walker

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