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Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Year in Provincial Provençe

In my Provençal village the air was cold the last day of the year, but that didn’t stop the folk; they were busy, darting in and out of shops, fretting behind steering wheels – they had yet another festive occasion to prepare – New Year’s Eve  called in France, Saint Sylvestre.
The feast, Le Réveillon was an excuse to have more top notch food like oysters, fois gras and champagne but who’s complaining?
Oysters are a must- have for our New Year celebration. My husband acted as oysterman for the evening so I poured myself a glass of white wine, watched and encouraged as he leaned over the kitchen sink. This way I could make sure there was no slurping behind my back.
 He opened each oyster carefully and cleverly, throwing out the first water; this allows the oyster to make more juice – no rinsing of course.
Those who love good food, drink and tradition appreciate this time of the year because the festivities just seem to follow on.
Another tradition is the celebration of Epiphany.  Yet Another excuse for gourmands to get together; this time to share a Galette des Rois (King’s cake)
There are two versions of this scrumptious cake; luckily we can get them both here.
In the Provence the galette is a made of brioche dough, crown shaped and decorated with glazed crystallized fruit.
The other galette, often referred to as the Parisian Galette is made with puff pastry and stuffed with frangipane.
A galette from the patisserie will come with a cardboard crown to be worn by the lucky person who gets the fève in their slice of cake.
What is this fève?
It’s a small porcelain figure, dropped into the cake before baking. The French word fève means dried bean. Up until the nineteenth century, a fava bean was used instead of a figurine to symbolize fertility and renewal.
Patisseries, boulangeries and supermarkets will stop selling these galettes from February 2nd so we’re making this our special Sunday treat all of January.

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