|My kids are in Catholic school and last year I became a Catholic myself so Lent is a big deal around here. My eight year old came home from school the other day wanting to know what I was going to give up for Lent. I’m still thinking about that… Hmm, Some people give up sweets or meat or shopping, anything that is a sacrifice for you.
Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday”, is the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the fasting period of Lent in some Christian traditions. As such, it is traditionally a day to eat, drink, and be merry before the austere fasting season begins, leading up to Easter. In North America, Mardi Gras is most closely associated with New Orleans and other Southern cities, such as Mobile, Alabama. French settlers brought the tradition with them from France and Canada, and it has grown and taken on its own Southern flavor.
|This is my e-vite I chose from pingg.com|
One of the most popular foods during Mardi Gras is the king cake, consumed by the carload and traditionally sold in bakeries, grocery stores and delis from January 6 to Ash Wednesday. Locals and visitors alike eat king cake for breakfast, coffee break, and dessert. In fact, almost any excuse to grab a slice will do.
The tradition of king cake dates back to the Middle Ages when a popular devotion during Christmas was placed on the Three Wise Men (or Kings) who followed the North Star to find Christ. The twelfth night after the birth of Christ marks the end of Christmas and the celebration of Epiphany. Thus, Twelfth Night in some cultures became a time for pageants and giving special presents to children. Along with gifts came the celebratory cake, or king cake.
Today’s king cake is a confection made of braided Danish pastry, laced with cinnamon. It is always iced in the Mardi Gras colors of purple (justice), green (faith) and gold (power). Hidden in each king cake is a tiny plastic baby. The person who finds the baby must buy the next king cake or host the next party. Contemporary king cakes are often filled with cream cheese, fruit fillings, such as apple or strawberry, and other fillings.
Here is a super easy King cake recipe on Allrecipes.com. It uses store bought sweet mix that comes in a can. I’m not into slaving all day to make a sweet bread. It’s more for the look anyway. I have cocktails to get to!
Now here are some ideas for New Orleans style cocktails: