Christmas feasting is over, so bring on the ...feasting!
After all the excitement of the Christmas and New Year revelries, which feature plenty of food and drink here in France as they do elsewhere, you might expect that January and February would bring more circumspect consumption. But this is France, with a tradition of ‘bon viveurs’ to uphold, so although in general we have returned to normal eating, there have still been several occasions to enjoy get togethers involving food and drink.
Firstly in January are the Voeux des Maires – when the local Mayor invites the population to share New Year wishes. Traditionally this includes a review of village events and achievements over the previous year and plans for the current year and it always finishes with a convivial glass of wine (or two!).
January is also the month of Galette des Rois (or Kings cake). Officially meant to be served on Epiphany, although they are available and eaten throughout the month; friends and neighbours invite each other to share a galette, usually with sparkling wine, to toast the coming year. The galette is a flaky pastry tart, filled (usually) with almond paste and hiding a ‘fève’, a small china token. There are lots of traditions surrounding the cake, the main one being that whoever has the fève in their portion wears a cardboard crown and becomes king or queen for the day.
Just as January ends, we have Chandeleur (Candlemas day), on 2 February. As before, lots of traditions surround the celebration of this day, originally based on Catholic teachings, but nowadays marked more by another reason (excuse!) for a party. From the middle of January, you notice supermarket displays of flour, eggs, jam, sparkling wine, cider and Nutella, as well as frying pans. That’s because Chandeleur is celebrated by eating pancakes – hurrah!
Whilst these celebrations are too early in the year for our guests to enjoy, be assured that there are plenty more festivals, events, and feast days all year round and they always include opportunities to enjoy French traditional food and drink.