Happy Mardi Gras!!
Today is Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, marking the end of one of the most festive holiday events in New Orleans.
Fun fact about me: although I live in New York and mostly grew up in Texas, I was born in New Orleans. In fact, my mom’s whole family lives in New Orleans, so growing up, Mardi Gras was an annual event for our family. And despite a somewhat popular misconception, it’s not entirely a drunken street party. Of course, if that’s your type of scene, you can easily find it around Bourbon Street. But in other neighborhoods, especially for the daytime parades, you’ll find kids and families out watching the parades and hoping to catch beads, or if they’re lucky, a stuffed animal or other such toy.
Part of the tradition of Mardi Gras is the king cake, an oval-shaped delicacy which is sort of a cross between a coffee cake and a French pastry. King cakes are only sold during Mardi Gras season, essentially from the start of the year through Mardi Gras; so, having a February birthday, I’ve always been able to enjoy king cake as a very special kind of birthday cake! Even after we moved to Texas, we would usually either drive back to New Orleans for Mardi Gras weekend and load up on king cakes from the bakery, or my mom would special order one for us to be sent to Texas from the very best bakery, Manny Randazzo’s. The best kind of birthday treat!
Inside each cake is a plastic baby; tradition is, whoever finds the baby brings the king cake to the next party.