Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mardi Gras!

Carnival, Fat Tuesday whatever you call it today is MARDI GRAS!  The day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, folks let down their hair and binge on the stuff they're supposed to give up for the next 40 days and nights.  For most its just a hedonistic reason to go out and do what you wouldn't normally do.

Most people know that New Orleans is the home of Mardi Gras in the U.S., but Mobile, Alabama actually has the oldest organized Mardi Gras celebration.  It's now celebrated in Biloxi, Galveston, all over different cities in Louisiana and many other Southern and non-Southern cities.

Parties, balls and parades are held; doubloons, beads, cups, Moon Pies are thrown, and much alcohol is usually consumed.

Another tradition of Mardi Gras is the King Cake.  A large ring of a coffee cake/cinnamon roll type of pastry filled with anything from spices and nuts to cream cheese.  It is usually iced and sprinkled with 3 different colored sugars: Purple for the Passion of Christ (justice); Green for hope (faith); and Gold for the treasures of leading a Christian life (power).  Traditionally a trinket or more recently a plastic baby was hidden in the cake and whoever had a piece with the trinket in it was king or queen for the day; but also had to buy the next King Cake or host the next party.

Of course in our fine country of lawsuit happy people plastic babies are now not usually supplied by bakers; if they are they don't insert it into the cake.  The last few I had were baked with a whole pecan to represent the baby/trinket.

So what are you giving up for Lent?  You don't have to be Catholic, we could probably all use a little mortification now and then.  Think of it as a good reason to pick up the New Year's Resolution you gave up about a month ago (more exercise, fewer cokes, reading more).  If you aren't giving anything up, let us know your favorite hangover cure in the comments.  Also, please let us know your family Mardi Gras traditions.

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Rachel said...

My hubby ordered me a REAL NEW ORLEANS King Cake for Valentine's this year...it was amazing. I've been trying to make the Grocery Store ones work for the past few years, and it just doesn't cut it!