A galette by any other name spells trouble

In Current reading, Food, Local projects, proto drafts, Synopsis on January 4, 2015 at 8:28 am

Lest we revert too quickly to sensible eating habits, the next festive hurdle lurks but two sunrises away: Epiphany also known as Les Rois in France when, according to Christian custom, the three Kings of the Orient arrived with gifts for the new-born in the manger. Tradition has it we must eat a rich galette with an uncooked bean (or a porcelain trinket) in it. Whoever finds the object without breaking a crown, becomes King or Queen for the occasion. Those who break a crown try to get a quick appointment with their dentist.

For various experts, the galette tradition dates back to more ancient times when the golden pastry symbolized the sun. Did it then contain a bean, a trinket or a stone? I have no idea. All I know is I paused last night to read through a bit of Rabelais – chapters 25 through 32 of Gargantua, to be precise – wherein we learn how war broke out between Gargantua’s country and his neighbors on account of a quarrel with les fouaciers.* Les fouaciers were makers of a delicacy called fouace. Still found around here, these pastries are about the size of a round serving platter. How horrific slaughter broke out over such a trifle bears reading in the bilingual version, with the French from the year 1535 on the left, and the contemporary reading on the facing page.

Interesting: the French verb dérider from which we get the word derision has two basic meanings: the first, to uncrease (or unwrinkle) and the second, to cheer up. Of course, regular bouts of cheerfulness leave laugh lines, but I think the unwrinkling applies to worry lines – those deep vertical furrows between the eyebrows, for instance.

Enough words on this page to launch me into the day? Work starts again tomorrow. Texts to deliver, the first draft of the synopsis to finish, then boil down to a standard fifteen hundred words. Plus, whatever pops up and beckons between now and bedtime.

Oh yes, and market day too.

* It all started because shepherds were guarding the grapes against the birds before harvesting. Along came les fouaciers on their way to market with their carts loaded down with appetizing pastries. The shepherds offered to buy some. Les fouaciers refused. Hundred Year Wars have broken out for less.



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