The moment had arrived at last. It was January 6th, a holiday known as l’Epiphanie in France and Martinique, and the Epiphany meal always ends with the Galette des Rois. This cake is a beautiful confection of puffed pastry with a layer of marzipan in between. And in one of the pieces of cake that Leyla cut and served each of us there was a small king. Whoever received that piece would be king (or queen) for the day.
The cake was delicious. I finished mine quickly, without finding a piece. We ate and waited, trying to figure out who had the piece. No one found one. Someone had to be hiding it, we decided. But who?
In the end, that is a mystery that will never be solved. The cake was finished, and Alicia graciously decided that she must have swallowed the king, so she was queen. Of course, the honor consists of little more than getting to wear a cardboard crown but it is an honor nonetheless.
If you ask a Martinican what Epiphany is for, they will probably not be able to tell you. At least none of the Martinicans I asked could. Upon a quick Wikipedia search, I learned that the holiday was traditionally used to celebrate the revelation of Christ as the son of God. Like much of the Christmas season, the holiday now exists for family and friends to eat a very large and delicious meal together and, as Marie Antoinette would say, let them eat cake!
We most certainly did eat cake—and much more. For an appetizer, we ate boudin. Boudin is a blood sausage—although this kind is without the blood—that you squeeze through the wrapping to eat. In Martinique, they make several types of boudin and it’s a food typically served at Christmastime. The boudin we ate was made of conch, shrimp, and bread.
For the main meal, we had a delicious stew with lobster, shrimp, and donbré. The stew was sort of like the Martinican equivalent of chicken and dumplings. Donbrés are balls of dough that are cooked in the stew. The stew is served over rice. Leyla and her mother had prepared the meal and, as always, it was delicious.
By the time we were done eating, it was six p.m.—four hours after we had started!