I love rituals. There’s a ritual down here that I’ve missed for many years. It’s the ritual associated with the Catholic calendar that starts at the Feast of the Epiphany and goes through Fat Tuesday. The Feast of the Epiphany is also called Kings’ Day. It is the day that celebrates the arrival of the three wise men to the stable. I’m not going to tell the official story here because I’m not Catholic, and I don’t know that I’d get it right, but it is a big deal down here, and it is celebrated with some wonderful yeast-risen cakes called King Cakes. A little plastic baby is hidden inside the King Cake, and whoever gets the baby in their piece of cake is traditionally supposed to bring the next King Cake.
I saw them in the grocery the other day and brought one to my family’s New Year’s gathering. It was delicious. My friend Michael posted on Facebook that it was just a few days until the best time of the year, King Cakes! I commented that I’d already had two. He texted me and growled at me. I said, “What, they were in the store?” He informed me that you cannot eat King Cake before Jan. 6. I informed him that I did.. twice. “Blasphemy,” he replied. I reminded him that being divorced and being gay were both blasphemy, too, but I’m divorced and he’s gay. “Well, King Cake trumps divorce and gay any day, and you can quote me on that!” he retorted. Okay then, I won’t eat anymore until Jan. 6.
This morning I got up and went to Calandro’s Supermarket first thing to get my King Cake. They had one that was labeled “better than sex.” Yep, that’s the one I want! So, I got it and took it to work. It was met with a lukewarm response. Too many people ate too much over the holidays and had started their own purge ritual. But, there were a few that stopped by my desk to have a bite. I texted Michael first thing and asked how the cakes were going. He, of course, made his own. They are yeast-risen, and so they take precious time coming into being. He sent me pictures of the process as it moved along. We were both excited about our little ritual. I had two pieces today. I really regretted it during my run tonight, but it was delicious. I have not enjoyed the King Cake tradition in 30 years, and I’ll be damned if anybody is going to rain on my parade.
Speaking of parades, that’s the next thing on the agenda. My Meetup Group’s calendar is filled with parade parties for the next month or so. I was a little shocked at first because the rest of the country barely knows Mardi Gras season is going on. I used to throw a big Mardi Gras party when I lived in Knoxville every year complete with King Cakes, masks and beads and all the purple, green and gold trimmings. But, I gave it up after awhile. In the last 10 or so years, I have noticed other cities starting some Mardi Gras traditions but certainly not on the scale of Mardi Gras in Louisiana.
Stay tuned for some scenes from my Mardi Gras adventures. I plan to check off one of my Bucket List Louisianne items and catch a chicken in the old-time Mardi Gras in Mamou. My sister, my friends Jo Ann and Robbie and whoever else wants to come along are going to experience a different kind of Mardi Gras. I’ve heard it’s really, really cool. Anyway, Happy Kings’ Day. If you didn’t get your King Cake today, go get you one. You can order them online for an exorbitant price, but they are well worth it. And, if you get the baby, don’t be a spoil sport, buy the next cake. Be sure to thank your host or, if by chance you have somebody like Michael go to the effort to bake you one, give him a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. They did something really special for you.