Féves and The Tradition of the King's Cake
Féve is the French word for bean and originally it was a bean that was used as the 'prize' in a Galette des Rois. The name stuck but it now also describes the little tiny hand painted porcelain or ceramic figurine that traditionally is baked inside every Galette des Rois, or King’s Cake. The French celebration of Epiphany begins January 6th and ends 47 days before Easter Sunday. In Northern France the Galette des Rois consists of flaky puff pastry layers with a dense center of frangipane, or crème d’amande. Delish!
In southern France the cake is called gateau des rois and is made of brioche and candied fruits and sugar. The latter version is also commonly found in Spain and New Orleans during Mardi Gras.
The cake is meant “to draw the kings” to the Epiphany. We have always baked the féve in the cake but I recently read about another tradition which dictates that the youngest person at the table should place the féve in a randomly selected slice and then place themselves under the table while the eldest serves the cake.
In the past one would divide the cake in as many shares as guests, plus one. The latter, called “part du pauvre”, “the share of God” which was meant for the first poor person to arrive at the celebration.
As an interesting side note, the French President is prohibited from “drawing the kings” on Epiphany due to etiquette rules. In light of this, a traditional galette is served without the fevé or crown at Elysée Palace.
Along with LOTS of 'new' antiques in the shop we also have Féves to celebrate this special time of year! Cafe au lait bowls, European grain sacks, antique porcelain, vintage silver and flea market finds have all been updated. Let m know what you think!