All Hail the King

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My sweet, sweet niece Amber sent me a King cake. Sweet. King cakes are an integral part of the weeks long season that precedes Mardi Gras called Carnival. They’re baked with a tiny plastic baby hidden in them. Whoever gets the baby has to host the next party and provide a new King cake the next week and so it goes for each week of Carnival.

These parties are generally held by your friends, or your class, or your office, or your bowling team, or your secret league of super heroes dedicated to protecting the universe from your nemesis. People who grew up there say they would go to school with firm instructions from their mothers not to get the goddam baby. Since, when I lived there, the cakes were notorious for being unpalatable (they were essentially stale white bread with colored sugar icing. It took a lot of beer to choke them down, probably another reason mothers of elementary school kids didn’t want them getting the baby.) Why New Orleans, a city famous for good eating, tolerated such unappetizing fare for so long is a mystery. Shortly after we left for San Francisco, somebody finally woke to the idea you could actually make them taste good by baking a coffee cake complete with plastic baby. I’m still annoyed they waited until I was gone for this revelation.

Since the original ones were so uninspiring tasting, people got sick of them about 3 or 4 weeks into the season; everyone there has stories about parties were no one admitted to getting the baby. The urban myth that holdouts would simply swallow it are universal. Personally, I think some underpaid baker somewhere would simply not put one in every few cakes just to fuck with people, Happy Mardi Gras.

I see on the box that Amber’s came in, the baker now claims whoever gets the baby has a year of good luck ahead. I was very impressed that Amber had found the best baker of King cakes in New Orleans, Gambino’s. When we lived there, before they stumbled on King cakes you could actually eat, Gambinos was famous for their Doberge cake, another local tradition. A multi-layer confection with custard and rich chocolate icing, they are the birthday cakes of choice for New Orleanians. Amber said she sent the cake off a while ago, but it got snagged up in some delivery hell brought on by the freezing weather and a fire at FedEx’s Memphis center. She was concerned the cake would be too old, but one thing I learned for sure was that King cakes are nigh on indestructible. Certainly, this one is delicious and tender.

Since my whole family approaches food with unbridled enthusiasm, Amber sent me two cakes, which is enough for a party of about 40 fatties. I shared one with my neighbors. I thought about explaining the whole baby Jesus in the cake thing, but then I remembered that’s what Google is for.

Naked Kings:

Who doesn’t adore goofy muscle pussy?

More goofy pussy

It’s a secret.

But no secret here.

“I’m FREE”

Get some sunscreen on that, baby.

About mrpeenee

A former bon vivant and terror of a number of New Orleans bars in the mad, gay 1980s, I'm now quietly retired and widowed in San Francisco. I have a crooked nose due to an unfortunate Frisbee accident.

12 responses »

  1. I’d be very careful of splinters, if I were that last chap. Jx

    PS some culinary traditions are just too weird – but baking a plastic baby into a dough cake is one of the oddest; comparable to a similar tradition over here of putting a “lucky” sixpence (old money) in a steamed Xmas pudding. Choke hazard, anyone?

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  2. Your description of the original King cakes (and some googled images) put me in mind of the iced buns we have over here – Sounds perfectly resaonable but, disappointingly, its just a bread roll with icing on top. Vom.
    I also googled Gambino’s Doberge cakes. Yes, please! And hold the baby.

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