In many homes and offices, family and friends get together to enjoy a "galette des rois", helped down with a glass or two of fizz, white wine or sometimes cider. The galette is a type of cake made up of leaves of puff pastry with a filling of almond paste. A "fève", literally a bean but more often a tiny ceramic object, is baked inside and the cake is presented with a golden paper crown. Portions are disributed with a warning to eat carefully and the lucky person who finds the "fève" claims the crown and is honoured as king or queen of the occasion.
Earlier this month, the Cercle Français de Belfast gathered in the Dark Horse Coffee House in Belfast's Hill Street to celebrate La Fête des Rois. 50 of us munched our way through four large galettes and we crowned "3 reines et 1 roi". No "fèves" were swallowed, no teeth broken and a great night was had by all.
Galettes are almost impossible to find locally. A French restaurant owner, in nearby Holywood , supplied the ones for our evening. Maybe those large companies that specialise in baking and distributing French bread could add galettes to their product line next year. It would be a great custom to start here; bringing people together in friendship and sharing - now that would crown it all!