King Cakes Level The Field

       King Cake is a topic that I usually write about at least once each Carnival season, not because I want to, but because I feel I should. Other than to point out the obvious – there has been a growth in bakeries making the cake, as well as more varieties of the cake injected with gooey stuff and a world market due to the Internet and fast delivery services – the topic has not interested me much. To me, the pastries are like extraneous sugar, easily brushed away. My interest has been more in the social, political, economic and historical sides of Carnival. However, this year I had a revelation: King Cakes are part of all those, plus more. Two weeks ago, when I did my obligatory blog on the topic, I was surprised by the reaction. This is a topic on which every one has an opinion, perhaps a newly discovered bakery or a favorite style. The business of King Cakes provides opportunities for various demographics and business models.

       In every level of participation, New Orleans does its style Mardi Gras better than anywhere in the state. Our floats are better, as are our bands, throws and riders’ costumes. No thoroughfare in the state is as grand as St. Charles Avenue as a place to watch a parade. There is only one place where the playing field can be level – King Cakes. It is possible for a little country bakery to gather fresh native pecans and indigenous fruits to prepare a godly cake that can be served in China two days later, or in a nearby office.

       By origin the King Cake is French (galette du rois) but that is of little interest to the Gambinos and the  Randozzos. The local Vietnamese population, who learned their baking techniques from the French, have developed a delicate King Cake.

       Someone was complaining that all the new generation King Cakes are excessive. What? Excessiveness in Carnival? I'm shocked. The season thrives on excessiveness with changes along the way, overwhelming the same old stuff. We saw that when Bacchus first added excess to parades to create the superkrewe. Carnival is preserved by tradition but kept interesting by changes.

         It is no longer news that there are King Cake-flavored rums on the market. At an event I went to last week someone was providing tastes of his self-made King Cake vodka. That afternoon the office coffee machine feature King Cake-flavored coffee.

       Taste labs have made just about anything possible as a flavor; the Carnival pastry has become more than just a cake; it's an ancient food given a whole new life by modern times. Who likes what? The debate intensifies. Personally, I like apple and cream cheese.

 

 

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 BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s new book, “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), has been released. It is now available at local bookstores and at book web sites.

       
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS  AT 7PM, REPEATED AT 11:30 PM.WYES-TV, CH. 12.

 

 

      

                                                                                    

 BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s new book, “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), has been released. It is now available at local bookstores and at book web sites.

       
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS  AT 7PM, REPEATED AT 11:30 PM.WYES-TV, CH. 12.

 

 

Categories: Carnival Coverage, Mardi Gras, The Editor’s Room