TRADITION: Epiphany in the West Indies


After recovering from the end-of-year festivities and the usual hearty meals, it's time again for tasting with the unmissable galette des rois… embellished with a West Indian touch.

Consumed every January 6 for Epiphany, a Catholic feast commemorating the birth of the child Jesus by the three Wise Men who came to adore him, the galette des rois is a culinary tradition that Saint-Martin residents are particularly fond of.

Some do not hesitate to shake up the habits of the traditional frangipane pancake to bring a little Creole flavor to the recipe.

Flavored with sweet potato, flambéed with rum, or filled with fruit paste, the Creole galette is a dry, shortbread pastry that can be revisited according to your desires, such as with a filling of local fruit jam or cream. Sharing the galette des rois also marks the beginning of a new festive period during which it is eaten regularly, that of carnival. The recipe for the traditional galette des rois includes almond cream which gives this tasty taste of flaky frangipane. For the Creole galette, budding or professional pastry chefs replace this main ingredient with a fruit jam, whether maracuja, guava, coconut, honey or any other local fruit. Young and old alike are always waiting impatiently for this moment to find out who will be the lucky holder of the fève. This practice of concealing a bean in the cake would find its origin in the Saturnalia, festivities of Ancient Rome. During these pagan festivals celebrated at the beginning of January, the roles were reversed between masters and slaves so that the latter became "kings for a day". Whoever found the bean was elected. Broad beans were replaced by porcelain figurines around 1875, while keeping this name of broad bean because it carries a positive meaning, symbolizing fertility and rebirth, the broad bean is indeed the first vegetable that grows in the season of spring and gives life as it ages. The current porcelain figurines have become collector's items for those who practice fabophilia, the act of collecting the beans of galettes des rois. Jacqueline Goepfert, 85, is the biggest bean collector (or fabophile) in France with 182.600 beans on the counter. This January 6, 2023, the galette will be in the spotlight, whether frangipane or Creole. But let whoever finds the bean be warned: custom dictates that this person receives a bouquet of flowers but that they will then have to cook the Creole galette for the next festivity! _Vx

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