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The King of Cakes

Carnival season officially starts today, January 6, 2011, with the Feast of Epiphany. That means now is the time to make your New Orleans travel plans and book a room at your favorite New Orleans Bed and Breakfast. One of the most compelling reasons to come is the food.

Mardi Gras King Cake

A colorful New Orleans King Cake.

The Feast of Epiphany is traditionally celebrated on the twelfth day after Christmas, and marks the Biblical Magis’ visit to the Baby Jesus in Bethlehem. For centuries, many cultures have celebrated the Feast of Epiphany with a King Cake, known as Galette des Rois in France. These cakes hold a treasure inside – historically a gold coin among the wealthy and a fava bean among the poor today often a ceramic or plastic charm; the lucky person who bites into the treasure has the honor of hosting the next King Cake Party.

The tradition of King Cakes in New Orleans extends back to the eighteenth century, brought by the French and Spanish who settled here. Not surprisingly, New Orleans has made the King Cake its own. La Galette des Rois in France consists of puff pastry and almond filling, simply adorned with a golden paper crown. The New Orleans King Cake adds a festive twist to the ring of twisted sweet bread; it is topped with colorful icing or sugar, usually in the traditional Carnival colors of purple, green, and gold. If the baker is Cajun, the King Cake may be deep fried like a doughnut (because isn’t everything better when is deep fried?). Fillings may be as simple as cream cheese or as decadent as praline.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Head to your favorite New Orleans Bed and Breakfast as soon as possible and then run to the nearest bakery. It is time to feast on the king of cakes, share it with friends, and then feast on another.

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