I used to love Mardi Gras.
As a child, my mom would put up a festive Mardi Gras tree in our dining room every year and deck it out and then we’d enjoy some King Cake.
I probably loved Mardi Gras because I found the baby in every single King Cake. Thinking back now, my parents probably did that on purpose because I got so excited every time I found it. I just knew that the rest of my year was going to be perfect.
Then, we would get down on some food on Fat Tuesday. That name is noo lieee.
In case you’re reading this and thinking, “What the heckkk is she talking about.. babies in cakes??,” here is the history of King Cakes from MardiGrasDay.com:
Epiphany, celebrated in European countries, marks the coming of the wise men who brought gifts to the Christ Child. Epiphany is also called Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night, and is celebrated twelve nights after Christmas. People from all of the world celebrate Epiphany by exchanging gifts and feasting. A very popular custom that is still celebrated is the making of the “King’s Cake” which represents the three kings who brought gifts. A plastic baby is baked inside the King Cake, and the tradition is whoever receives the baby in their piece of cake must buy the next King Cake or throw the next party. King Cakes are made of a cinnamon filled dough in the shape of a hollow circle. The cake is topped with a delicious glazed topping and then sprinkled with colored sugar. The three colors of the sugar are Purple (representing Justice), Green (representing Faith) and Gold (representing Power). Today the King Cakes are baked with a wide assortment of fillings inside the cake. King Cake is the preferred dessert and snack in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Hundreds of thousands of King Cakes are eaten in New Orleans during the Carnival season.
Many are shipped throughout the U.S. for those displaced New Orleanians longing for a taste of Mardi Gras. In fact, a Mardi Gras party wouldn’t be a Mardi Gras party without a King Cake.
You might be wondering, “Why on earth would a plastic baby be inside of a cake?” Well, the baking of King Cakes is a tradition in New Orleans that begins on King’s Day, at the start of the Mardi Gras season. A tiny baby, just like the ones you see here, is baked into the cake. The person whose piece of cake contains the baby furnishes the King Cake for the next party (which are usually held once a week on Sundays until Fat Tuesday.) However, when celebrating Mardi Gras out of town, most people regard the person who ‘got the baby’ as the King or Queen of the party being held. Either way, it is a tasty way to spend an afternoon, and we promise you’ll love it, too! A new idea that has recently grown in popularity at children’s parties is to serve cupcakes decorated like regular kingcakes and put a baby in each one. That way, every child will experience the thrill of finding the baby!
Anyway, we don’t really do much anymore. At least we don’t have a tree or king cake. Instead, I made some good old New Orleans Okra Creole and it is dang good. Seriously, so good. Like, no leftovers good. As long as you don’t leave out the bacon. Bacon brings this meal together. Trust me, I tried it before and after and it’s crazy how different the taste is before and after. If you want to impress someone with an easy Mardi Gras dish, this is it.
- 3 bacon slices
- 1 (16-ounce) package frozen sliced okra
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup frozen or fresh onions
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon Emeril Southwest Seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Hot cooked rice
- Cook bacon in a Dutch oven until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings.
- Crumble bacon, and set aside.
- Cook okra and next 6 ingredients in bacon drippings in Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Top with crumbled bacon.
- Serve over rice.