Monday, February 23, 2009

Let them eat cake- by "them" I mean me.


My king cake consumption was monumental this year- my tally thus far: 4 plastic babies, a porcelain poodle, a sphere marked Venus, a porcelain Jazz musician playing what looks like a large daikon radish and a porcelain penguin from the galette des Rois Monsieur Moose brought back from Paris last week- oink -they are mine. all mine. I am a wealthy king cake trinket miser.
"What is a king cake" you ask?
The "king cake" takes its name from the Biblical three kings. Catholic tradition states that their journey to Bethlehem took twelve days (the Twelve Days of Christmas), and that they arrived to honor the Christ child on Epiphany. The season for king cake extends from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Twelfth Night and Epiphany Day), through to Mardi Gras day.
Some organizations or groups of friends may have "king cake parties" every week through the Carnival season.
The cakes have a small trinket (often a small plastic baby, sometimes said to represent Baby Jesus) inside, a little bean was traditionally hidden in it, a custom taken from the Saturnalia in the Roman Empire: the one who stumbled upon the bean was called "king of the feast." In the galette des Rois, since 1870 the beans have been replaced first by porcelain and, now by plastic figurines; The person who gets the trinket is declared the King or Queen of the day. Sometimes there are separate cakes to select the males and females; the one for women is sometimes called a Loomis Cake. The king or queen is usually obligated to supply the next king cake or host the next party or both. King cake parties may be held at the homes of people who live on or near the routes of Carnival parades.
It is a common practice in elementary and secondary schools to have king cake parties, usually on a Friday. The person who receives the trinket is required to bring the cake the following week.
Some krewes select their monarchs via king cake.
Related culinary traditions are the tortell of Catalonia, the gâteau des Rois in Provence or the galette des Rois in the northern half of France, and the Greek and Cypriot vasilopita.

The galette des Rois is made with puff pastry and frangipane (while the gâteau des Rois is made with brioche and candied fruits).
The French king cake, “La galette des Rois” (the cake or "wafer" of the Kings) is a cake celebrating the Epiphany and traditionally sold and consumed a few days before and after this date. In modern France, the cakes can be found in most bakeries during the month of January. The cake consists of flaky puff pastry layers with a dense center of frangipane.
Tradition holds that the cake is “to draw the kings” to the Epiphany. (The French President is not allowed to “to draw the kings” on Epiphany because of the etiquette rules)
A figurine, “la fève”, which can represent anything from a car to a cartoon character, is hidden in the cake and the person who finds the trinket in their slice becomes king for the day and will have to offer the next cake. Originally, “la fève” was literally a broad bean (fève), but they were replaced in 1870 by a variety of figurines out of porcelain or - more recently - plastic. These figurines have become popular collectibles and can often be bought separately. Individual bakeries may offer a specialized line of fèves depicting diverse themes from great works of art to classic movie stars and popular cartoon characters. The cakes are usually sold in special bags, some of which can be used to heat the cake in a microwave without ruining the crispness of the cake. A paper crown is included with the cake to crown the "king" who finds the fève in their piece of cake. To ensure a random distribution of the cake shares, it is traditional for the youngest person to place themselves under the table and name the recipient of the share which is indicated by the person in charge of the service.
Formerly, one divided the cake in as many shares as guests, plus one. The latter, called "the share of God," "share of the Virgin Mary," or "share of the poor" was intended for the first poor person to arrive at the home.

Cheers!
The Louisiana Flip
1/2 oz absinthe
1/2 oz Cointreau orange liqueur
2 tsp lemon juice
1 egg
1 tsp sugar
nutmeg
Shake ingredients well with ice. Strain into a prechilled Delmonico glass. Sprinkle nutmeg on top.

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