Celebrating the Epiphany with L’Ecole des Loustics in Exeter
Last Sunday, Anne and her boys went to an event organised by the Exeter French school L’Ecole des Loustics to celebrate (rather belatedly) Epiphany.
L’Ecole des Loustics is a non-for-profit association that runs after-school language classes for French-speaking children aged 0 to about 12 years old.
The Epiphany is quite a big thing in France, no sooner have we finished the last remains of our Yule log and candied chestnuts do we start to tuck in with gusto in our Epiphany cake or galette des rois (King’s cake if you like). The Epiphany is only one day but we make it last a whole month with French bakeries selling around 30 millions galettes across the month!
The season of the galette des rois begins on Twelfth Night and ends on Shrove Tuesday. The Epiphany is celebrated on 6th January and corresponds to the moment when the baby Jesus is presented to the Three Wise Men to give their gifts – poor them, it did take a rather long time to get there!
The traditional Epiphany cake is essentially a puff pastry pie filled with frangipane (an almond flavoured cream not dissimilar to that found in Bakewell tarts). In the South you can also find brioche flavoured with orange water and decorated with candied fruit. What makes the Epiphany cake different to any other cake is that it contains a “fève”, a little ceramic figurine representing the Nativity and characters from the crib. The tradition goes that the youngest child goes under the table and points out the guests, who are then given their portion of the cake. The one who finds the fève is crowned and chooses his or her queen or king and is given a cardboard crown.
It’s quite rare in France that people make their own galette des rois because they are notoriously tricky to make and also because you can buy amazing ones in every bakery. In Devon, they are harder to find hence why we made our own.
Ten families donated galettes, which were shared amongst the crowd but also judged by a panel of experts; the categories were, amongst others, best taste, prettiest, most original etc.
The afternoon was about getting together and having the children meet up in a different setting than the school because after all being multi-cultural doesn’t just mean speaking several languages but also understanding and keeping traditions alive, including culinary ones. There was a treasure hunt, face painting, glitter tattoos and the children also made cardboard crowns for the winners – as you can see I was one of the lucky one.
It was all great fun and needless to say that we only needed a small dinner that evening.
L’Ecole des Loustices is open to French-speaking children, not just French children, so if your kids can understand and speak French and are regularly exposed to it at home, come along and join us!
About the Author:
Anne Richardson is originally from France, she moved to Devon in 2012 after spending twelve years in London. She had to look up Exeter on a map when her husband accepted a job there!
She moved down in bleak February, with a toddler, crippled with morning sickness and knowing no one. Finding it hard at first but she soon met lots of mums, started at feel at home and now wouldn’t move back to London for the world (just the weekend perhaps).
Anne is a registered nutritional therapist who is passionate about food; she is either cooking, eating or talking about food. She is a strong believer that we could all be healthier if we ate better but doesn’t do fads.
Devon is the perfect place for her and her family, not only is it similar to her native Brittany, it is also abound with good produce and a wealth of places to visit. With two boys she can often be seen on Dartmoor, at the beach, on walks or just cycling around the quay.
Tags: christmas, epiphany, Exeter, french school, galettes