‘La galette des Rois’, or the ‘three kings cake’, is a big thing in Paris. If you pass by any of Paris’s boulangeries or patisseries between the Epiphany (Jan 6th) and Mardi Gras, you will see a mouth-watering display of these cakes, named after the three kings in the Bible.
Galettes differ throughout France (and the world for that matter), but in Paris you galettes are typically made from puff pastry and filled with frangipane.
A little bean (la fève) was traditionally hidden in the galette, and the one who found it was crowned “king of the feast”. The bean was later replaced by a porcelain figurine of the baby Jesus, and nowadays all kinds of shapes and characters are hidden in the cake; but the lucky winner still gets to wear the crown for the rest of the day. Usually, the ‘official’ crown comes in the bag when you buy your galette.
It’s not uncommon to find colleagues and families throwing “king cake parties” every week throughout the galette season. The first time I was invited to such a party, I was surprised to see the youngest of the group dive under the table as soon as the galette arrived. I soon found out that this is also part of the tradition, with this ‘hidden’ person assigning pieces as the cake is cut, ensuring that the king is chosen randomly. Be warned that whoever is crowned ‘king’ is also expected to buy the next cake!