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Sunday, 6 January 2013

France's sweet tooth Epiphany - Galette or gâteau des Rois?

It's one of those things - along with among others, soccer teams Paris Saint-Germain/Marseille and the weather - that apparently illustrates the North-South divide in France.

The choice of a galette des Rois (North) or a gâteau (or couronne) des Rois (South) might not exactly be the Gallic version of Switzerland's Röstigraben, as there's no linguistic difference. But there's very definitely a gastronomical and therefore in a sense, cultural one.

La galette des Rois

Le gâteau des Rois

As French television "news" never seemed to tire telling viewers leading up to January 6, Epiphany is traditionally celebrated in France with the downing of one or the other - depending on where you come from and whether you like frangipane.

According to TF1, the galette des Rois produced by boulanger Stéphane Louvard was chosen as the best in Paris this year.

Apparently Louvard worked for more than 15 years to get the right mix of puff pastry and almond paste and perfect his technique to beat out almost 300 others to pick up this year's title.

Meanwhile as BFM TV reported, in the South, the traditional alternative is la couronne des Rois: a brioche (in all its variations) decorated with candied fruit and "flying off the shelves for those who cannot stand almond paste."

While the one featured in the BFM TV report looked a little top heavy to say the least, there are more - shall we say "restrained" versions of the same thing also kicking around.

La couronne des Rois (screenshot BFM TV)
Either the galette or the gâteau should bring a smile to the face of anyone with a sweet tooth (even if there's no chocolate involved).

Plus of course the person who ends up with the fève or trinket in their slice (unlikely to be porcelain unless you've plumped for a very upmarket version) will get to "wear the crown" and play King (or Queen) for the day.

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