French Traditions and Recovery Sweets
By Carmela Villegas of Casa San Luis
Traditions have always been very big in my family. And food was synonymous with traditions. Food was an important part at our gatherings. But I’m not going to elaborate about my family traditions but about French dessert traditions.
The French have this calendar of desserts; cakes or sweets that are served on special holidays. Interesting enough, it follows the Calendar of Catholic Holidays.
Erwan stuffing his face with a Galette des Rois that i made.
Epiphany: La Galette des Rois – There are 2 types of King Cakes. The widely available and known one is a flaky puff pastry pie filled with Frangipane which is an almond cream. The second cake is a brioche shaped as a large ring and decorated with candied fruits and sugar, designed to look like a crown.
In both cakes, there is a fève (a porcelain figurine) inside. The lucky one who gets the slice of cake with the figurine is king or queen for the day. As a child, this was the fun part because you get to wear a crown for the day. Who has never dreamed about being a princess some day? Traditionally, the youngest
My 2 sisters and i at the Bakery i worked in, in France
La Fête de la Chandeleur: This day is also known as La Fête des Crêpes. In the Roman Catholic Calendar this is the day Jesus was presented to the Temple.
Anywhere in France, from school canteens to cake stores they will be serving this thin pancake like dessert. This is the best day to have your friends over and have a Crêpe Party. Have a stack of crepes ready and place bowls fruits, peanut butter, nutella, whipped cream, honey, sugar etc. beside it and your friends will have a blast making their own dessert.
Mardi Gras: The day before Lent, history has it that people needed to get fat before the 40 days of fasting. Hence, the name Mardi Gras meaning Fat Tuesday.
In France, Patisseries will be selling some Beignets which is fried Chou Pastry. They can be plain inside served with powdered sugar on top or filled with jam, hazelnut spread or chocolate fudge.
Easter: The week before Easter pastry stores, chocolate stores and even the neighborhood kiosk will be selling Chocolate Eggs or Rabbits filled with candy. This day is my favorite because it’s an excuse to eat delicious chocolates. The French don’t have Easter Egg Hunts like we do here in the Philippines but I remember one Easter while I was working in Paris, my fiancé hid chocolate rabbits around the apartment for my roommate and I to find.
Christmas: Bûche de Nöel or Christmas Yule Log is served during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This cake is a sponge cake or genoise with a layer of filling rolled to form a cylinder and then frosted with buttercream to resemble a log. Then for extra decoration, the pâtissier would add little mushrooms made out of meringues or leaves made out of chocolates.
Being far away from his home country my dad would try to keep these traditions within my family. However, some of these desserts are hard to find in the Philippines. Luckily for my family, I am now in the business of cakes and try to make each dessert for each occasion.