As regular readers know, I have a passion for France and all things French. I’ll explain about one of the January customs in France.
All the Boulangeries (cake shops) sell their “Galette des Rois”. A galette is a cross between a tart and a cake. Each region has it’s own recipe. When we lived in the Côte d’Azur they had an almond flavour. “Roi” is the word for King and you will realise why it is in the title. In the galette, is hidden a “fêve”, which is a small china ornament.
It’s rather the same idea as our grandparents hiding a silver 6d in the Christmas pudding! It’s considered very lucky to find the “fève”. You become “King” and you wear the golden crown that is always sold with the galette. Now if you cut the slices, the knife might hit the fêve and the person doing the cutting could then choose to whom they gave the lucky portion. Therefore the youngest person sitting around the table has to sit under it. He or she then calls out each name so that it is pure chance who gets the lucky fêve!
I’m always pleased when readers share with me their thoughts on the things that I have written. My neighbour, Peter, told me that Jolly’s in Bath is still very much in business, they must have been trading for over 70 years! However, he said that the "Red House” where we always had afternoon tea after our shopping spree, is now a branch of Laura Ashley!
He also told me some interesting facts about Marmalade. I have always supposed that it originated in Spain because Seville oranges are often used. No! The Portuguese made the first “orange jam”. Marie Antoinette was said to be very fond of it. Why was it called Marmalade? Peter told me that Mary Queen of Scots was often unwell. One of the few things she could eat was a confiture (jam) made of oranges. Her staff were French and when she asked for it they would say to each other “Marie est malade” (Mary is ill) which sounded to the English as though they were saying “Marmalade”!
As I’ve explained before, I use Bonne Maman jam in my cooking. I usually bring some back from France as it’s cheaper there. In September I brought back orange, blackcurrant and raspberry flavours. Why didn’t I bring back mandarin? You can’t buy it in the north of France, yet they sell it at Downend Co-op. Another mystery ... a friend of mine in Brittany was left a field by his Godmother in which he grew potatoes and cauliflowers. The latter cost more to buy in his village than the ones transported over here!
Do you like Cauliflower Cheese? When I make it, I usually fry some rashers of bacon until they are crispy, and then I scatter little bits over the melted cheese. If you want to vary the dish you can add sliced potatoes to the cauliflower, make the cheese sauce using single cream and top with sliced tomatoes flavoured with nutmeg (or garlic).
Now that the sales are in full swing, if you see a sleeveless dress that you really want, but you need sleeves, there is a solution. If the item is a real bargain, buy two. You get one in your proper size and the second in the largest size on sale. You then make the sleeves from the second dress. You can use the sleeves from an old dress that you no longer wear as a pattern. I often do this and there is usually enough fabric to make a scarf or pleated belt as well.
Finally, a story against myself. A character in “Emmerdale” was shot in the “Woolpack”. I saw her advertising a competition on TV and thought “She’s recovered quickly”. I was confusing the real person with her “soap life”! Perhaps I watch too much television!
I wish you all a true-life 2014. Enjoy each day.