King’s Cake

Hello!

Today, so far, has been a great day. I got up to help get breakfast and Bastien ready (although I slept in a little >_<), and then after I went back to bed for a nap….that took the next three and a bit hours. I didn’t realize I was THAT tired. Then again, yesterday was a very full day. Let me explain…

January 6, 2011

After sending Greg and Bastien off, I went to get ready for the very full day ahead of me. Adeline picked up the Gâteau des Rois (or King’s Cake) and then we were off to Louvain-la-Neuve. She had a doctor’s appointment so I stayed with her Mom and Sylvain. When she returned we were off to Namur to see Jean-Go and to get my tour of the city (the old part of the city). It was raining (while it’s not England, it still rains a lot!) and I was very grateful for my Mountain Equipment Co-op rain jacket! 

You may be asking; ‘why did Holly go on a walking tour of Namur in the pouring rain?’ Well, it wasn’t quite pouring….all the time, and you can’t control the weather, so if possible, just go ahead with your plans! We went to the old part of the city that is all paved with cobblestones and there are certain places cars can’t go, so it’s really nice to walk around. We went to the old market square and went inside this old church (which was beautiful in a lonely kind of way). Before doing much though, we went for lunch at this restaurant called ‘Le Royal’. It was….decorated with a lot of pink.

They even had Canadian lobster on the menu! I had this really great dish called Bouchée à la reine. It was chicken with mushrooms in a cream sauce inside this pastry bowl, with fries on the side.  There are always fries! With mayonnaise! So tasty. Did you know that fries were invented in Belgium? The art of double frying them for extra crispy-ness originated in France, but the story goes that fishermen were in the habit of deep-frying their fish right on the boat. One day someone said ‘hey, why don’t we do that with our potatoes?!’ So they did. They realized that what they really like about this process was the crispy-ness of the outside so they thought that if they cut the potato into strips there would be more crispy-ness!  And fries were born. (That is the story as best I can remember from Jean-Go telling me yesterday) After lunch is when we did our tour. I think we spent a little more than 3 hours walking in the rain. We did make lots of stops to take a look at things and we even went into a toy shop to warm up (this was Jean’s idea, I always knew he was just a big kid! ^_^). We saw a basilica that has a wine brewery in the basement and they have tours in October and November (which Jean put his name down for), so that will be neat to see. Jean took us by his university and we ran into this brand new building that looked very out-of-place amongst all the others. Jean was surprised by it because he had never seen it before and it looked quite ugly surrounded by the older buildings. We saw the ‘Arsenal’ which until just after WWII, I believe, was the arsenal for the army and it’s right along the river. Now it’s conference rooms and a university restaurant. We couldn’t go inside because it was closed, but Jean tells me that while it looks old and historical on the outside, on the inside it’s new (like a lot of buildings). Let’s see, what else. Now I’m not sure how correctly I remember all this, but Namur used to be a really fortified city (we didn’t get to go to the citadel, but we will some other time) and it’s on one of the main rivers in Belgium. This river goes all through Belgium, and out to the sea. Where the citadel is, is also where two smaller rivers meet as one, so it was a very important center back in the day.

We also went to a coffee shop and saw the coffee roaster outside. Did you know that before being roasted, coffee beans are green? Neither did I. They pointed out a liquor store (which is unusual, normally you can just by beer and other things in the grocery stores), which specializes in rare alcohol. There was a lot to see, that I don’t even remember all of it! I will definitely go back when my family comes later in the year, so they can see it. Hopefully it won’t be raining and I can get pictures without my camera getting wet!

Now I bet you’re all wondering what a Gâteau des Rois is? It is a very tasty cake that’s what! In Belgium on January 6, they celebrate the Epiphany, which celebrates the visit of the three Kings to the Baby Jesus. For more information you can check out this link http://blog.pangea-collection.com/2010/01/06/celebrating-epiphany-with-a-kings-cake/. We were invited to Adeline and Jean-Go’s mother’s house for dinner and cake, but before we that Adeline had already ordered her own from the local bakery (boulangerie). So now we have extra cake! (Which we actually had for breakfast…..yummm). It is cake on the inside and pastry (like pie crust) on the outside. Somewhere in the cake is baked an item (ranging from a bean to a plastic king! *except that plastic would melt, so of course it’s not plastic*) and whoever  gets the piece with the surprise wears a paper crown and is King for the day (or at least of the rest of the night). In Belgium, to make sure that the distribution of cake pieces and possibility of getting the special one is fair, they have a tradition of having the youngest member in attendance go underneath the table and calls out the names of the people around the table. At first Bastien wouldn’t come over so Jean-Go said that I would have to do it! (although they weren’t going to make me climb under the table) But, Bastien came over eventually. He wouldn’t go under the table though, so he just stood next to Adeline and said who should get each piece. Alas, I did not receive the special piece, it was Adeline’s Grandma who did. I would like to get a recipe for making this cake. It was very good! And you don’t even need icing.

January 7, 2011

I hope you all have enjoyed this post and maybe next January when I’m home I can make my own King’s Cake!

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3 Comments

  1. Julie Nash

     /  January 11, 2011

    Sounds good, Holly! I understand the Americans were exposed to “frites” during WW1 (or possibly WW2) and assumed that the French-speaking Belgians were French, thus “French fries” were born. Do you like them with mayonnaise?

    Reply
    • Yes! Mayonnaise is good one everything! Well, tastes good anyway. Those darn Americans :P. Thanks for reading! ^_^

      Reply
  2. Diane

     /  January 9, 2011

    Sounds yummy. You must all the old building facinating. Wishing I could come for visit while you are there. Tell Jean-Go hello from me, from Canada’s West Coast.
    Love
    Aunt Diane

    Reply

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