January 7, 2013

In my post from yesterday I found it interesting that not only is January 6 the Feast of the Epiphany and the beginning of the season of Epiphany, whereby the white and gold altar linen of Christmastide is replaced by with green, it also marks the beginning of Mardi Gras season in Louisiana:

Epiphany marks the beginning of the Mardi Gras season in Louisiana. It is customary to bake king cakes during this time of the year. These cakes may include a small trinket (such as a baby doll) inside. The person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket receives various privileges or obligations. For example, they may be requested to provide the next king cake. The interval between Epiphany and Mardi Gras is sometimes known as “king cake season”.

It’s cool to see that Mardi Gras season is not just in Louisiana but also all along the Gulf Coast from Avery Island all the way to Pensacola. There’s always been something about Pensacola that has attracted both me and my imagination: it not only seems like a great place to live, a New Orleans weekend is nothing more than a few hours away and, most importantly, I’m near salt water.

Ahhh…one of these days – maybe.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:27 | Comments (3)
  1. Mardi Gras actually originated in Mobile, AL….it then spread to New Orleans. Most associate MardiGras with New Orleans and don’t know where it actually began.

    Comment by Jana — January 7, 2013 @ 6:39 am

  2. Haven’t been to a Mardi Gras parade in a long time. The wife doesn’t like crowds any more.

    King cakes go on the market in December now. You would not believe the lengths people will go to avoid the baby. First, they almost always ask if anyone got the baby yet. If they’re told no, they wait a while and come back. Some will take the knife and stab, stab, stab to make sure they don’t hit anything hard. Some will swallow it whole. Some will leave the area, spit it out and throw it away. At our office some years ago, we sliced the remainder of a king cake into about 8 slices and placed a baby in every slice. No one got the baby. All this to avoid the semi-obligation of buying a $5 king cake.

    Comment by Rob — January 7, 2013 @ 8:04 am

  3. and here is the rest of the story….

    Mardi Gras King Cakes

    It all begins on January 6th (Twelfth Night, the Epiphany, or “little Christmas” as some call it). It begins with the Ball of the “The Twelfth Night Revellers”, and with the Streetcar Ride (party) of the “Phunny Phorty Phellows” (Funny 40 Fellows). This is the official start of Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
    Mardi Gras King Cake

    You know that Mardi Gras is at hand when you start to see those King cakes everywhere. A King Cake can be best described as a circular, braided cinnamon coffee roll, 12″ to 24″ in diameter, with lots of pretty purple, gold and green icing (and, there is a little plastic baby inside). Of course, many of the bakeries get a jump on the process, and many are selling them well before Christmas.

    The King Cake custom began as a celebration of the three Magi, and the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Today, the King Cake is more associated with Mardi Gras. Almost daily, there is a King Cake at the office coffee pot, and the recipient of the baby is expected to provide the cake for the following day. Visit any friend at home, and you will almost certainly be offered a slice of King Cake.

    How did this custom start? Well, most people are more interested in the cake than the history. NOLA Live traces the Mardi Gras King Cakes back to the Middle Ages, and King Cake History emphasizes the custom of providing the next cake, if you find the baby.

    Mardi Gras King Cake babiesSo, what about this plastic baby inside? Yep. In every one! The general rule is that you try to get a piece of the cake without the baby, because if you get the baby, you buy the next King Cake! For newcomers, the baby is a nice keepsake. For veterans, the collection of babies translates into a lot of money invested in King Cakes.

    Here’s a tip if you want (or don’t want) to get the baby: The plastic babies are not baked into the cake. They are added later. A little slice is made into the cake, the baby is inserted, and then the icing is added. The baby is usually found under one of the larger blobs of icing.

    Well, the coffee roll is what the King Cake used to be. As more and more bakeries started to bake King Cakes, it was inevitable that each would try to best their competition with something really unique. To that end, the King Cakes started to arrive with chocolate filling, then cherry, lemon, apple, pineapple, blueberry, peach or whipped cream.

    The cheesecake (and later the chocolate cheesecake) filling soon became the standard of King Cake decadence. For sure, some today have about 10,000 megacalories — enough to maintain your metabolism well past Easter. Any wonder why people fast during Lent?

    Gold Mardi Gras King Cake BabyThe little plastic babies were always about 3/4″ long, and pink (some were deep pink, and others were pale, depending upon the supplier). Soon, as with everything else, pink babies were determined to be politically incorrect. Some bakeries began to experiment with different colors, and one even had one or two King Cakes each year, with a 24k gold baby inside. Gold colored plastic babies are not uncommon.

    Comment by Jana — January 7, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

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