Mardi Gras 2012 coincides with the 175th Anniversary of New Orleans. Many people are looking back at the traditions throughout the years. One of may favorite traditions is King cake. King cake is something I was introduced to on my very first Mardi Gras but I didn’t really get into the tradition until I moved to the city. It’s not simply something you eat once or twice. This cake is in offices and at house parties from Twelfth Night to Mardi Gras.
The name is linked to the Three Kings date, or Epiphany. January 6th marks the beginning of the Carnival season. Traditionally, tokens were placed inside to designate a king and a queen at the celebration. In New Orleans, they’ve got a tiny baby that represents the Christ Child. Today, if you find the baby, you won’t be crowned king or queen of the party. The person who finds the baby actually is charged with buying the next king cake! I first participated in this tradition when I found the baby for the first time at my office job. The next day, I had had to bring in the next cake!
The New Orleans King Cake can vary from bakery to bakery but the basic idea is the same. It’s a brioche style wreath cake that’s frosted and then decorated with the ceremonial colors of Mardi Gras: green, purple, and gold. You can get them in many flavors, but most I’ve come across are like cinnamon buns.
Whether you’re a local or visitor to the city, you’ve got to have at least one slice of King Cake this year. If you find the baby, you may be having more!