This morning as I was headed to work wishing that I was celebrating Fat Tuesday in New Orleans, Mobile, Venice, or anywhere other than snowy New York, I walked past the local bakery where I was aghast to see a King Cake for sale in the window for $65!
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of a King Cake, it is a fairly simple brioche pastry twisted into a wreath and decorated with multi-hued icing in colors of purple, green and gold. The delicacy (and I use the word in jest) is sometimes filled with cream cheese or cinnamon, but the true secret to a King Cake is that baked somewhere inside is a tiny plastic baby and the person who finds the trinket, and hopefully doesn't swallow it, is considered king for the day.
A French tradition that in this country is centered around Mardi Gras, King Cake is eaten during the pre-Lenten hurrah right up through Fat Tuesday, the final day in while unbridled Bacchanalian abandon is allowed to continue. Normally a day of overeating, drinking and just general mayhem, Fat Tuesday is the day in which the bell tolls for the truly gluttonous, who atone the following day (and the subsequent forty days there after) amongst the pious who must "put away childish things" and tow the line during a Lent marked by deprivation.
While most King Cakes are a glorified mix of white bread with sugar drippings, I wanted to stand and wait to see what poor sucker fell for the scam as the baker pocketed the hefty profit of $64.50. While I am never one to turn down anything with sugar and carbs in it, I would suggest that those interested look for a version close by at a lower price. Just be sure not to break a tooth, or the bank, when you bite into it.
- By Seale Ballenger