Friday, 6 January 2012

Buona Befana!

If you'd ask to any Italian child what festivity falls on January 6, surely the answer you'll get would be: the Befana! If you'd probe further to try to get him to talk about the three Kings visiting baby Jesus on this day and all -- Italy is a Catholic country, right? -- maybe some would remember seeing something of the sort in a nativity scene.

To what does the Befana own this popularity? Gift-giving. According to Italian folklore, on the night of the 5th of January an ugly witch called Befana rides on her broom to go and bring good children candies and gifts. The celebration of Befana is what you obtain when combining halloween-esque witches and candies with christmasy stockings filled with gifts.

I have celebrated the Befana since I was a child, and I have upheld this tradition with my son. Yet, since he was born in Montreal, where the sixth of January one rather celebrates the Three Kings in a typical French fashion, we have adopted a mix tradition. We wake up in the morning to check our stockings for candies and gifts brought by the Befana, and then after lunch we eat a "galette des Rois" and crown king the person who finds the small treasure hidden inside. The latter part of this tradition proved difficult this year, because we could not buy our galette from the local bakery as we would have done in Montreal. We thus decided to be inventive, and we baked our own galette following another kid-friendy recipe from Toboggan (you may remember our first cooking craft from this post). The result was delicious and we had tons of fun making it!

RECIPE: Galette des Rois
Ingredients: 2 apples sliced lengthwise, 2 rolls of puff pastry, 1 jar of apple sauce, 1 egg, 1 "treasure" (made of a material resistant at high temperatures, such as ceramic).

1. Spread the first roll of puff pastry, and layer on top of it the apple sauce and the apple slices. Hide the treasure!

2. Cover with the second roll of puff pastry. Gently beat the egg and, using a cooking brush, spread evenly the beaten egg on the pastry.

3. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 200 degrees. VoilĂ !

Photo: Oubliette Magazine.

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