King Cake Parties
As a kid in New Orleans, every Mardi Gras we delighted in what we
called "King Cake Parties." The cake was a circular coffee cake,
decorated with sprinkles in Mardi Gras colors (gold, purple and
green) and inside was baked a little porcelain baby. Whoever had
the piece with the baby was crowned, and gave the next party.
They still have this tradition in New Orleans, but the babies are
now plastic and the decorations on the coffee cake even fancier.
My sister and her husband who come to Paris nearly every year at
Mardi Gras time, often bring us a cake, so that some favored
traditions may never end! I hope this year isn’t any different.
When I first came to France, I discovered where the tradition
actually originated . . . as the Galettes des Rois for the
tradition of Epiphany, eaten after New Year’s, much like the
coffee cake and also baked with a baby inside.
At one time, a bean was used so the little baby is still called
"la feve." The person who finds it is crowned during the party,
and must then pick a king or queen, and put the toy in a glass.
Everyone raises their glasses and applauds. Tradition says that
the next party should be at the king’s expense. (Guess that’s why
New Orleans took on the tradition so readily–any excuse for a
The best Galette des Rois I have ever eaten came from Ladurée,
made with almond paste and apricots. For a rich and delicious
chocolate garnished galette, try one at La Maison du Chocolate.
Picard sells them frozen, (which is less expensive) and they’re
very good indeed. If you get very energetic, make one from
scratch by buying a "Croustipate" kit at your local supermarché.
And if all else fails, join us tomorrow night at Parler Parlor
for our annual King Cake Party, where the cake and drinks are
compliments of the house.
Here’s hoping you luck out, get the baby and will be king or
queen for the day . . . bon appétit,
email: mailto:[email protected]
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