by Jen L.
I grew up just outside Baton Rouge, Louisiana and until I was in graduate school, thought Mardi Gras was a national holiday. My family was never big on going to the parades,but my dad always brought me some beads and dubloons home from his office party and we ALWAYS got King Cakes. The best ones come from Gambino's Bakery. If you've never had one, it's like a big cinnamon roll, but with much more meaning.
Baked only between Twelfth Night (January 6) and Fat Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday), king cakes signify the gifts of the Magi to baby Jesus. Each cake is baked into a circle (like a crown) and covered with frosting and colored sugar. The colors each have special meaning:
Purple = Justice
Green = Faith
Gold = Power
Each cake also contains a plastic baby, representing the baby Jesus. In Louisiana, you eat a LOT of king cake. When I was in college, we got one every week for our Friday theatre majors' meeting. It is traditional for whomever receives (translated: bites down onto) the baby in his/her piece of cake buys the next one. Most families or workplaces have one per week from Twelfth Night to Mardi Gras.
A lot of flavors exist now, but the traditional cinnamon king cake will always be my favorite.
Have you ever had King Cake? What's your favorite kind?
Laissez les bon temps roulez!
Image credit: Gambinos.com