|It tastes better than it looks -- and yes, it's supposed to look like that|
Yes, although I'm a Yankee girl, I lived in New Orleans for a couple of years in the mid-1990s. Let's just say it was a nice place to visit.
But I did have the pleasure of eating my way around the city, enjoying some of the best meals I have ever had, in addition to partaking of many of the local customs, most of which involved food. Or booze. Or both.
Take, for example, Mardi Gras. I quickly learned that most of the people that you see in the crowds on Mardi Gras day are tourists; the locals get the hell out of Dodge to avoid all the drunken frat boys that descend on the city to behave badly and pee on the sidewalks.
But prior to Mardi Gras day, there weeks of parades to watch and parties to attend. And no Mardi Gras party is complete without the king cake.
[I wish this had something to do with Elvis, because he would have loved it, but it does not, dammit.]
You can trace the origins of the king cake all the way back to the pre-Christian religions of Europe and a nasty ritual sacrifice -- read about at the Gumbo Pages, it's actually quite interesting -- but I'll fast forward to more modern times in which the cake became the way that ball queens were chosen (much less bloody -- usually). From there, it made it's way down the social strata food chain to become the beloved Mardi Gras tradition that it is.
Basically, it goes like this: You throw a little pary and supply a king cake. In it is baked a small plastic baby (yep, a baby -- you can buy 'em by the gross). As the tradition goes, whoever gets the baby in her piece of cake is then required to host the next party or, at least, bring another cake into the office break room in a couple of days.
The traditional king cakes I have had have tasted pretty much like a coffee cake. This recipe, however, is no ordinary coffee cake. It comes from Emeril Lagasse (the face of New Orleans with a bad-ass Massachusetts accent -- gotta love it!) so it apparently has been kicked up a notch -- by adding all sorts of cream filling. Rock on, Emeril!
The recipe is pretty easy but time-consuming, so I won't hold it against you if you decide to skip it this year. But it is wicked good. So good that, despite it's gargantuan size, we've eaten almost all of it between the two of us.
Clearly we have laissez les bon temps roulez around our kitchen.
Happy Mardi Gras, y'all...
Emeril Lagasse's Mardi Gras King Cake
Since I didn't change the recipe at all, you can find it in all its glory over
at the Gumbo Pages.