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The Grape Years Weblog

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January 14, 2005
Villers-La-Faye, Burgundy - France

The Mayor's Wishes

“I’m never lucky with these sort of things,” I remark to our friend, Jean-Yves, during the annual Voeux du Maire in the communal festivities room just down from our house in Villers-la-Faye.

The French "tri-colour" stands
proud at La Mairie.

The Voeux du Maire or “Mayor’s wishes” is the annual ceremony where the mayor does his mayor-ly duty of wishing everyone happiness, luck, health, etc. in the New Year, and the villagers do their part by shoveling in as much saucisson, Kir, and other treats as humanly possible between handshakes and kisses.

Jean-Yves and I are both munching on a piece of Galette des Rois, a pastry and marzipan pie that is the traditional party fare for the weeks surrounding Epiphany on the Catholic calendar. Like almost everyone else in the noisy room, neither of us has a free hand - we’re each also holding a ruby glass of Kir.

La Galette is almost always a delicious treat, but there is more to it than that. Baked in every pie is a “fève”. This is a little ceramic statue that entitles the lucky galette slice holder to a golden cardboard crown.

Franck has already found a fève in his piece five minutes ago, a little china pirate with an eye-patch. He regales Jean-Yves and I with stories of how he always was the one who got the fève when he was a child. Charlotte and Camille have run off with the other children in search of their second piece of Gallette.

Charlotte has definitely inherited Franck’s luck. Out of four Gallettes she has partaken during the past week, Charlotte has been crowned “queen” three times. When she was crowned at school, she chose Baptiste, a little boy with long lashes who cries when Charlotte plays with someone else, to be her King.

Immediately after lamenting my fève-lessness to Jean-Yves, I take another bite. My teeth crunch against something hard. I sheepishly open up my slice to find a shipmate to Franck’s pirate reclining serenely in my marzipan. I nudge Jean-Yves and show him.  He laughs at me for a long time.

The tally for the Germain family at the end of the evening is impressive. Between the four of us, we have three fèves.

Apparently after we leave the paper crowns are brought out from the kitchen and the mayor asks who had found the fèves. Nobody raises their hands. Looks as though we’ve made a clean sweep.

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© 2005, Story by Laura Bradbury  & Photos by Franck Germain - All Rights Reserved.

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