Monday, February 8, 2016

Celebrating the feast of Saint Jacqueline

French Village Diaries frangipani Saint Jacqueline
Saint Jacqueline and the frangipani slice


I think I have reaffirmed the belief that I am the ‘slightly bonkers English lady’ in the village on my trip to the boulangerie today. I am not usually to be found buying cakes on a Monday, as a Sunday is my day to indulge, so the boulanger was a little surprised at my request of a frangipani slice this morning.
“You’re being a little greedy today” he joked with a smile.
“Aah, I’m celebrating, it’s the feast of Ste Jacqueline today” I replied.
His blank look meant that although he (and his wife) may make the most flakiest puff pastry, filled with the most delicious almond frangipani; that shatters and comforts with each bite, he is a bit lacking in the history of the frangipani. I explained that Saint Jacqueline was born in 12th Century Rome; she married Gratien Frangipani and was quite an accomplished baker of almond cakes. These cakes, called Frangipani after her family name, were given to the poor, the unhappy and the rich and also bundled into her little chariot to be handed to the other pilgrims she met on her annual pilgrimage walk to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. What a lovely lady she was. I have to admit to having had a bit of a love/hate relationship with my name when I was growing up, primary school writing was much harder for me than my friend Emma, but funnily enough I’ve always had a thing for sweet almond desserts. I’m also fascinated (and very tempted) with the Chemins de Saint Jacques, the French routes to Santiago de Compostela that pass very close to where we live. We are obviously kindred spirits.

I then went on to say that it is the law that all those named Jacqueline must eat frangipani today in celebration.
“Oh, really” he said. “That is an English custom is it?”
“Aah, no, actually it’s just in my head, but I think it should be the law!”

So, if you are called Jacqueline, or you know someone who is, please spread the word and indulge in frangipani today. It certainly brightened up my morning coffee and would make Saint Jacqueline and me very happy indeed.