Embassy of France welcomes new year with a sweet tradition

Michel Miraillet, Ines Gomes, Kirsten Sardelis
French Ambassador Michel Miraillet with Invest Ottawa's Kirsten Sardelis, senior market development manager of global expansion, and Inês Gomes, market director of global expansion (Europe & Brazil) at a reception held at the Embassy of France on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2023, for a "galette des rois" celebration. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Just when you think the holiday season is over, the French have one more reason to celebrate in January — and this one really takes the cake.

On Thursday, France’s new ambassador to Canada, Michel Miraillet, welcomed dozens of guests to the gorgeous embassy on Sussex Drive for a reception that featured a special dessert: galette des rois, or kings’ cake. It’s made with flaky, buttery layers of puff pastry and an almond cream filling known as frangipane.

Each cake is baked with a small charm, or fève, hidden inside. Whomever is lucky enough to find a fève in their slice of cake gets to wear the gold paper crown as king or queen for the day.

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The tradition of eating galettes dates back to the 14th century in France. Originally, it was served on January 6 to celebrate the Epiphany, a religious feast day. These days, it transcends religious boundaries and has become more about meeting up with friends and family. The cake is now enjoyed throughout January, with bakers in France apparently making more than 30 million of them each year.

The tradition of eating “galette des rois” dates back to the 14th century in France. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The reception included a mix of guests from government, diplomacy, culture, and business. James Richardson, sponsorship manager with the Ottawa Jazz Festival was there. So was Serge Belet, senior manager of public affairs and partnership at the National Gallery of Canada. Also seen was Dominique Jacobson, owner of Jacobsons gourmet food shop in New Edinburgh (the store imports the best in fine French cheeses). 

Inês Gomes and Kirsten Sardelis, who work in global expansion at Invest Ottawa, the lead economic development agency for the City of Ottawa, were invited. So was Marie Beaux, executive director of the EU Chamber of Commerce in Canada.

Working hard to keep the French language flourishing in Canada are Nicole Thibault, network CEO of Canadian Parents for French, and fellow guest Emeline Leurent, executive director of French for the Future, a non-profit organization that supports and motivates high school students toward bilingualism. 

The embassy is looking forward to welcoming an even larger crowd to its Bastille Day celebration in July. The French national holiday commemorates the start of the French Revolution and eventual end of monarch rule. Preparations for the big event are already underway, the embassy told OBJ.social.

James Richardson, Juliette Pierre
James Richardson, sponsorship manager for the Ottawa Jazz Festival, with Juliette Pierre from the cultural office of the Embassy of France, at a “galettes des rois” reception hosted by the embassy on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Vicken Koundakjian, Daniel Blanchard
From left, Vicken Koundakjian, senior protocol advisor at Global Affairs Canada, with Daniel Blanchard, who was one of the guests that got to wear a golden crown after finding a lucky charm in his slice of galette des rois (kings’ cake) at the reception hosted by the Embassy of France on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Dominique Jacobson, Tegan Alton
From left, Dominique Jacobson, co-owner of Jacobsons gourmet food shop in Ottawa, and cheesemonger Tegan Alston, at a “galette des rois” reception hosted by the Embassy of France on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Emeline Leurent, Nicole Thibault
From left, Emeline Leurent, executive director of French for the Future, with Nicole Thibault, network CEO of Canadian Parents for French, at a “galette des rois” reception hosted by the Embassy of France on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Serge Belet, Tokuro Furuya, Arnaud Gaspart
From left, Serge Belet, senior manager of public affairs and partnership at the National Gallery of Canada, with Tokuro Furuya, deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Japan, and Arnaud Gaspart, deputy chief of mission for the Embassy of Belgium, at the “galette des rois” reception hosted by the French embassy on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Laurence Chantal Schaller, Sylvie Bragard
From left, Laurence Chantal Schaller, director of government and diplomatic sales at the Fairmont Château Laurier, with Sylvie Bragard, president of the Union des Français de L’Étranger, at the “galette des rois” reception hosted by the French embassy on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Marie Beaux, François Desmarais
Marie Beaux, executive director of the EU Chamber of Commerce, with François Desmarais, director of public affairs in Canada for French mobility tech company Alstom. Photo by Caroline Phillips

caroline@obj.ca

 

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