A man who has lived in the Grand Duchy for nearly a decade is recovering in hospital after having ingested dozens of porcelain figurines over the years.
Joe Mancino, 39, says that soon after he and his wife moved here, they learned about the seasonal cake called “galette des rois” or “Dräikinnekskuch” that is supposed to be eaten around the Epiphany holiday on January 6th.
Unbeknownst to them, part of the tradition involves finding and removing a porcelain object called a “fève” that is often in the shape of a person or animal, and is considered a prize. The lucky finder gets to be the king or queen for a short time.
But as Mancino and his wife have few friends outside a tightly knit group of expats, the couple never learned about this part of the practice.
“Sure, I often felt something hard in the cake as I was chewing it, but I figured that was part of the tradition,” Mancino said. “Sometimes my kids or wife would pass me their piece, complaining about it being too crunchy, or that their gums were bleeding, so I’d just say they needed to toughen up, and I’d eat it myself.”
Mancino admits that at times he worried about seriously injuring himself, especially when his teeth would chip or break off entirely.
“My parents taught me to always to finish my food, and it’s also very important to me to integrate, to do what the locals do,” he said. “If I had to ingest a little bit of porcelain every now and then, so be it.”
Originally published by RTL Today on January 4, 2019