Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Mardi Gras!

Today is Mardi Gras and the end of the Carnival season.    Happily our King Cake did finally arrive this afternoon.    Since it came all the way from New Orleans, it arrived, as it generally does, slightly squished and unfrosted.    One of containers of colored sugar was broken open.    By the time the cake was frosted and sugared by the children, though, it was all good.

For any of you who are unfamiliar, the King Cake is an old tradition in New Orleans (among other places),  and was apparently adopted there sometime in the 18th century.   It is a coffee cake, more or less, frosted with white frosting and usually decorated in the Carnival colors of green, purple and gold (although some of the Krewes [a whole other topic!] have special colors and fillings for their cakes).   There is a tiny plastic baby hidden inside the cake.   The person who gets the slice with the baby is, by tradition, the "King" of the celebration until the next party, where they are supposed to act as host and provide another King Cake which, in turn, leads to the selection of the next king.   The tradition originates in a combination of pagan and religious symbolism (everything from human sacrifice to the baby Jesus), but there's definitely nothing scary or sacred about the way it has played out over the past thousand or so years.    In my family, the King Cake tradition is a great excuse to eat sugar.     Love it!

5 comments:

The Farmer Files said...

I had never heard of the King Cake until ten years ago. We celebrate the same tradition, but on a different day. Both of my parents are Mexican. The tradition is that the sweet twisted Mexican bread called the "Rosca" is served after dinner. It is made in a circle, no beginning, no end. There are up to 3 baby Jesus' hidden. It is served on the 12th day of Christmas, the 6th of January. It is also known as Three Kings Day. The person that receives the baby in their slice throws a party on Feb. 2 (friendship day). Family and friends gather to celebrate the Rosca.

gpc said...

Sweet! I love these kinds of traditions. It sounds very similar. The King Cake season also starts on January 6 and runs throughout the Carnival season until Mardi Gras (or Shrove Tuesday), ending with the beginning of Lent. In New Orleans, maybe because of the excess associated with Carnival, there are parties almost weekly so a lot of King Cake can be eaten!

Kaybe said...

I think 1 king cake would be enough for me. Looks interesting.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Karen

Little Black Scrap Cat said...

So glad that it arrived!!

spindelmaker said...

Oh, I had forgotten about these Mardi Gras cakes! And the tiny baby-doll inside. Memory lane ... :-)