I’m going to be frank, I had no clue about Mardi Gras. I was under the impression that “Mardi Gras” was a gigantic party — not unlike the frat parties I attended in college — but in the streets of New Orleans. In my imagination, it was always night, everyone was seriously drunk, there were beads being thrown from balconies by drunk people onto more drunk people below, and there is some culture of having to expose yourself to earn beads. In my mind, this one party night was always like a scene from Girls Gone Wild. Also, somehow, I pictured the city of New Orleans as basically one street: the street everyone is partying on.
Now that I’ve experienced some Mardi Gras, I think some of this may actually be true. But that’s not what I really want to tell you about. What I really want to tell you about is KING CAKE.
KING CAKE! Tada!
WTF is King Cake?? you may be asking. King Cake comes from a Christian tradition involving Christmas and Jesus and the Twelfth Night and a bunch of other blah blah blah, but that’s not the important part. The important part is that you don’t chip a tooth or choke on the baby inside because part of this King Cake tradition is jamming a small porcelain baby figurine inside the cake before baking it. Baby Jesus, you’re in a cake now. How do you like them apples, Lord and Savior?
What makes a cake a King Cake? Well, it has a crown. Duh.
It also usually takes the form of something like a big cinnamon roll with yellow, purple, and green icing on top. I sprung for the fancy one. The $17 kind without icing from the fancy bread shop on the corner. And as it turns out, there wasn’t a speck of cinnamon in it. Hmmm…
In fact, according to local legend, this cake was nothing at all like a traditional King Cake. It was part croissant and part something else…
I have to say, I was a little nervous about not finding the baby before shoving a piece into my mouth. A week ago I chipped my tooth on mashed potatoes. That’s right. Mashed potatoes. I’m not sure how or why that happened. But I’ve chosen to move on with my life, and that includes eating risky cakes.
Since in times like these, my curiosity outweighs my good sense, I kept eating cake until I found that dang baby.
So now I can say that I participated in a local New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition… only with a non-traditional cake with a non-traditional baby inside.
Hooray for attempted traditions!!