Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Where have all the babies gone?

You know you're from Louisiana if...
The Christmas decorations are barely packed away, your friends are talking about fitness goals for the New Year and you've got visions of King Cake dancing in your head. If you've never heard of King Cake, you can read about it here. Ask me what I miss most about Louisiana and a lot of things come to mind (aside from family-I'd miss them no matter where they were.) At the top of the list would be Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night when the Golden Band from Tigerland belts out those first few spine tingling notes

going barefoot in nice thick, lush grass that stays green year-round

and King Cake.

During our first Mardi Gras in GA Hubby wanted to bring a King Cake to the office to share with his co-workers. We couldn't find any around town so I made one...from scratch. I've always had a tormented relationship with yeast. Usually it does absolutely nothing. This go round it more than rose to the occasion and I ended up with a wad of dough about as long as a boa constrictor. I don't remember the details, but I think I ended up taping pieces of two moving boxes together to make a "platter" large enough to hold the cake. The following year, I learned from the underground network of displaced Cajuns that King Cakes could indeed be found in ATL. All I had to do was go to my neighborhood Publix and order one. Seems it was a closely guarded secret. They don't actually put them out on the shelves. You just have to KNOW. We ordered more than our fair share that year. The first went to work with Hubby. He called half-way through the day and informed me there was no baby in the cake. (If you're not familiar with King Cakes, you're probably really confused at this point.) We couldn't believe our luck. Out of all the King Cakes sold, they forgot to put the baby in OURS! The nerve! A few days later we picked up a cake for ourselves. Imagine our chagrin when once again, there was NO baby. We started to put 2 and 2 together:

Maybe they don't put babies in the cakes here.

What's the point of a King Cake with no baby?

Later in the week, I picked up a 3rd cake (told ya we went overboard) for a playgroup Mardi Gras party. I dug out my arsenal of king cake babies collected over the years and contemplated hiding one in the cake myself - trying to determine which would be the bigger faux pas...a king cake with no baby or a king cake with two babies. I took a chance and tucked a spare baby away in the cake at the last minute and am happy to report it was the only one.
We've ordered many cakes from Publix since that first year even though they're not quite the real thing. This year, Sport, Spice, and I were beside ourselves when we walked in Kroger and saw King Cakes out on the shelves. They even had a hole in the middle like the REAL thing. (I always had to carve the middle out of the Publix ones.) The Kroger cakes still weren't authentic. Even Sport said it was too sweet. Last year my parents shipped us an authentic cake and it was heavenly, but it cost an arm and two legs to ship, so we can't expect that every year right? (However, if anyone in our family is feeling especially generous and would like to ship one we'd be more than happy to accept.) So... you take what you can get. Kroger's cake also did not come with babies so once again I dug my dwindling arsenal of babies out from the back of the kitchen drawer. One of our dinner guests - a King Cake novice - was thrilled to find the baby in her piece of cake and of course wanted to keep it. Not a problem, we're more than happy to share our babies around here!

1 comment:

Megan said...

Once or twice a year my aunt ships us a King Cake from Haydel's in New Orleans. She lives right across the street from one. I've never even tried the ones at Kroger or Publix, I know it will never compare! It's like trying to find a good Po Boy, coffee and donuts, or muffuletta out side of LA. Often imitated, never duplicated! I feel your pain!