It is January, and the only thing left to celebrate here in Paris, between the train strikes and the economic crisis, is the fête des rois. So instead of limiting the celebration of the arrival of the three kings to Epiphany on January 6th, we keep on celebrating -- and eating delicious kings cakes -- for the entire month.
In northern France, the traditional cakes or galettes des rois are made of puff pastry and filled with almond paste. Somewhere inside is hidden the fève, a small porcelain trinket roughly the size of its namesake fava bean. Whoever gets the slice with the hidden fève is declared king or queen and gets to wear a paper crown provided by the bakery for the occasion.
I love galettes, and I've bought two so far this year to share with my husband. Neither one had a fève! As long as there's plenty of almond paste I'm happy, but my husband was outraged. So I decided to timidly complain at the bakery when I came by for my daily baguette.
The young guy behind the counter shrugged. "It happens all the time," he explained, then offered me a fève if I wanted. I'd been hoping for an entire cake, so I declined.
"That's ok," I said, looking for a way to politely end my embarrassing query, "I guess it's a republic at our house."