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Lesson Transcript

Culture File - France, Lesson 22 - Becoming Queen is a Piece of Cake!
Hello, and welcome to the Culture File: France series at FrenchPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring essential cultural information about France, French culture, and French people. In this lesson, we’re going to learn about the Twelfth Night Cake. I’m Becky, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 22 - Becoming Queen is a Piece of Cake!
Twelfth Night cake, or in French Galette des Rois, is a puff pastry cake, originally made of frangipane, an almond filling similar to marzipan. People in France eat this seasonal cake during the Christian celebration of the Epiphany, in French pronounced Epiphanie. Inside the cake is hidden a charm or figurine, commonly called fève. If you happen to be in France in January, you will surely have seen this well-known, round, flat, biscuit in all the bakeries and supermarkets.
The tradition of the hidden charm inside a Twelfth Night cake comes from the pagan festival of the winter solstice, in which a king or queen was chosen for one day. During that time, the hidden object was usually a black bean. In the 18th century, the hidden figurine developed into a piece of porcelain representing a figure from the nativity scene. These days, however, the character represented by the hidden figurine varies greatly, so some collectors look forward to finding a new, unique one. What hasn’t changed throughout the years is that whoever finds the hidden fève in his or her piece of cake is adorned with a golden crown, in French couronne, and gets to choose his or her queen or king for the day.
When it is time to cut this cake, tradition requires that the youngest person’s present goes under the table. That person will point at the guests in order to designate, or in French désigner, the person who will receive the next piece of cake. This tradition developed in order to ensure a random distribution and avoid any unfair cheating, in French tricherie.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Have you ever tried a Twelfth Night cake? What did you think?
Leave a comment telling us at FrenchPod101.com! Until next time!

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Have you ever tried a Twelfth Night cake? What did you think?