Mardi Gras King’s Cake
Happy Mardi-Gras (Fat Tuesday) everyone!!!
I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but I did live in New Orleans, AKA “The Big Easy”, for about 18 months, and that’s where I met my husband! It was also right around the time of 9/11 and followed by a SuperBowl! Needless to say, we went to some real ups and downs during that time. Thankfully we had left before Katrina, but I remember sobbing uncontrollably when watching the news during that time…
Mardi Gras is such a huge deal for New Orleans, and after Katrina, for many years, everyone would say that it just wasn’t the same. But nowadays, for what I can gather the party is fully back on and the decadence is back in the street full force! When I say decadence, I mean it! It was borderline intimidating sometime to be out there!!! But so much fun! A life experience for sure!
But do you know why Mardi-Gras is celebrated? A little bit of history for you:
Mardi-Gras (literally “Fat Tuesday”) is originally a catholic event which marks the end of the “week of the seven fat days” which were known as “jours charnels” (meaning carnival) in the old days. Before Ash Wednesday, the start of the fasting period of Lent, people celebrated in many diverse ways as it was their last chance until Easter to eat meat.
The word “carnival” derives from the Latin “carnelevare” meaning “to take out the meat”. Indeed, meat was banished from the table during the whole period of Lent, as was sugar, ingredients containing fat, eggs and dairy products. If in Europe, the religious observance of Lent is followed by a rather small group of people, the celebrations around Mardi-Gras are still an opportunity taken by many to enjoy outdoor feasts, masquerade processions, masked balls, parades, pageants, jugglers, magicians and stilt walkers. This is what French people call “le Carnaval”.
The story about the Mardi Gras King’s Cake is actually the same as of Epiphany French King Cake, but celebrated on different dates! If you want the full story, you can visit this page. But just like it, we hide something in the cake, here it is usually a little plastic baby, and the one who finds it, has to bake or buy the next King Cake. The tradition runs from the beginning of the year all the way until Mardi Gras Day.
The cake is a brioche type of dough, rolled with a sweet mixture of sugar cinnamon and nuts. It is baked and covered in icing and colored sugar, the colors you find EVERYWHERE in New Orleans at this time of the year: Purple (representing Justice), Green (representing Faith) and Gold (representing Power).