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Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Mardi Gras and the King Cake
My mother taught me never to go to someones house with empty hands so, when friends invited us to a Mardi Gras party tonight I needed to spring into action. The hostess is from New Orleans so she knows all about these parties and the requirements. Apparently there are drinks that are very traditional (and at her house always contain alcohol) and snacks. No where on the list of treats was there a King Cake.
Don't know what a King Cake is? Neither did I except that we sold Mam Papauls King Cake Mix every year as part of the Mardi Gras display so it must have something to do with the holiday! This is what I found out about the history of the cake...
With Fat Tuesday (the last day of indulgence before Lent) around the corner, it's time for beads, celebration, drinks and cake. Yes, the king takes the cake and nobody does it better than New Orleans. While the oval-shaped cake might appear flashy, it melds perfectly with the festive mood of Mardi Gras.
NPR recounts the history of the cake dating back to Old World Europe. The French and the Spanish brought the cake to the Americas, where it seems to have been adopted in Catholic influenced areas from New Orleans to Mexico.
The traditional colors of Mardi Gras, which include purple (justice), green (faith) and gold (power) adorn the cake. A token, notably a plastic baby symbolizing the infant Jesus is hidden inside. The lucky eater who finds the baby (hey, try not to eat it!) may be crowned king or queen of the party.
Of course, royalty comes with obligations. Find the baby and you're responsible for bringing the cake to the next gathering. Feeling adventurous? Make David Gaus' King Cake recipe.
So the mix is in the kitchen waiting for me to start the cake which is unlike any I have made before. It has yeast in it and needs to raise twice. Its sounding like it will be more like a bread so...tune in tomorrow!
I will try to get to the drugstore and buy the correct batteries for my camera this morning! Never buy batteries for something unless you are sure, we now have 2 dozen (they were on sale) double A batteries and I needed triple A's. Fortunately they fit in the remote controls and all of Michael's flashlights (another story for another day!).