'Tis the time of year when grocery stores, bakeries and almost anywhere that people gather you will find a specifically New Orleans confection: the King Cake. Traditionally eaten on Twelfth Night, or the Feast of the Epiphany, the King Cake is an institution. Essentially, this is a yeast risen coffee cake that can come filled or plain. Plain being a filling of cinnamon and pecans. A filled King Cake can mean anything from cream cheese to chocolate or fruit filling enrobed in a rich, flaky sweet bread. Always present, however, is a small figure of a baby, representing the Christ Child. You are not meant to eat this. The one who finds the baby in their hunk of King Cake is declared to be King (or Queen) of the feast, and is responsible for either buying the next cake, or throwing the next Carnival party. This tradition is taken very seriously. To eat King Cake outside of Carnival Season holds the eater up to ridicule and humiliation by those who find out about it. But since, in New Orleans, as my sister Toenisha points out, shame and dignity are the first things to go, so, this is't that big of a deal. If you have an out-of-season craving for King Cake, may I recommend a regular coffee cake, without the Baby.
The international sign for "I'm Choking!"
Foreign object dislodged from windpipe...
Look! I found the Baby!