You don’t need to know much about the fabulous city of New Orleans to know Mardi Gras. The season of Carnival actually spans over a few months, celebrated with parades, parties, balls, costumes, and always with the popular delicacy known as the King Cake.
To give a brief history, King Cake is derived from stereotypical French pastries, and is now heavily influenced by the different cultures found in New Orleans. A fun tradition included in King Cake is the plastic baby hidden somewhere inside. The baby is symbolic of baby Jesus on the night of the Epiphany as he revealed Himself to the three wise men. Finding the baby in your slice of King Cake (if you can limit yourself to one piece) promises luck and prosperity, as well as the responsibility of purchasing the next year’s cake.
There’s no shortage of bakeries that sell King Cake in New Orleans, including an unbelievable surplus of filling flavors and styles. Some city favorites include Gambino’s Bakery, Randazzo’s, Sucre, and so many more smaller, locally-owned pastry shops and bakeries.
Every Carnival season often introduces new takes on the King Cake flavor. We’ve seen cake pops (can be found at Randazzo’s!), snowballs (featured at my personal favorite, Plum Street Snowballs!), and flavored coffees (get it at PJ’s!). Something that’s been seen before but is garnering more attention this year’s season is the King Cake cheesecake, found primarily at Copeland’s, but recipes for this fun idea litter the internet. Something that’s completely new this year is the Blue Bell Mardi Gras King Cake ice cream, released in markets in all over the country, popular with those that don’t even live in Louisiana.
Though the history and tradition is fascinating (to me, at least), it’s not necessary to understand all of Carnival Season to enjoy the food (as with any event in New Orleans) and desserts that come along with it, especially the King Cake. We’re known as a city of inclusion and acceptance, and Mardi Gras is no exception; there’s something for everyone.
COVER PHOTO: Taste of Home