I always feel nostalgic about May 1—today is the first day of my birth month, as well as May Day in France. Did I mention I am a bit of a francophile? Maybe a bit more than a bit, and here’s why….
I remember struggling to take deep breaths, coughing uncontrollably anytime I moved around too much. Having asthma as a child left a mark on me, as did the time I was sent “down the bayou” with my grandparents for a week because my asthma had flared up and both of my parents had to work. I was five years old and my grandparents spoke only French.
No television. No music. No children. No English.
But I loved to hear them speak—their words felt like music. Some days my entertainment came in the form of visitors, strangers I would never see again. They would show up unannounced to have my grandfather pray over them or their sick children as he was widely known in the area as a traiteur, or faith healer. I loved hearing him pray in French, his indecipherable mumblings turned what seemed like an awkward interaction into something solemn and poetic.
Looking back, I realize my pull toward France and French culture started during my visits down the bayou, listening intently to my grandfather pray, watching both sets of grandparents grow and preserve their own food, enjoy their wine, speak their language, and love their families with everything they had.
In France, today is a day to celebrate spring and the hope of good fortune. King Charles IX gave lily of the valley, called muguets, to the ladies at court every year on this date, and the French, as a show of fondness and gratitude, continue the tradition of gifting lily of the valley on May 1.
Creating buttercream flowers is one of my favorite ways to decorate a cake, and lily of the valley makes an appearance more often than not. It is my birth flower, but it is also a connection to country and a culture that has always felt like a part of me.
So please accept these lily of the valley, though only a photo and made of buttercream, as a token of my appreciation for you today. For more buttercream inspiration and lily of the valley piping video, visit @whyibakedacake.