Cincinnati may be a German town but we certainly get a little Cajun in us around Mardi Gras.
The Queen City is hosting a plethora of Mardi Gras parties this coming week (you can read about some here), and our local bakeries and restaurants are dishing up some serious New Orleans flavor.
On Sunday, Findlay Market will have a Mardi Gras parade led by Lagniappe, plus live Cajun and Zydeco music all day. There will also be a traditional lowland seafood boil beginning at 12:30 p.m. And on Fat Tuesday (4 p.m. March 4), BrewRiver GastroPub is doing a Louisiana-style crawfish boil with a special Abita tapping (Abita is a New Orleans brewery).
But if you want to host your own party, you'll need some provisions. The centerpiece of any Mardi Gras party is, well, booze. Second would be beads, probably. But then after that, most certainly comes the King Cake.
A King Cake is a round cake, typically made with twisted strands of cinnamon-dough, and sprinkled with super gaudy purple, green and gold sugar. Sometimes there's white icing under the sugar coating, and sometimes people toss Mardi Gras beads on top of the cake for good measure. Generally, there's a little baby figurine hidden inside the cake and whoever finds it gets good luck (unless they choke on it...).
King Cakes are traditionally served during King Cake season, starting with the Epiphany (Jan. 6), which commemorates when the three kings/Magi came to visit baby Jesus, and ending on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent — the six-week Christian practice of self-denial and repentance leading up to Easter. So King Cakes are named as such for baby Jesus, the King, and have a representation of him hidden inside.
Nowadays, if you're less religious, the cake is a colorful symbol of Mardi Gras and a necessary edible Mardi Gras decoration. And if you're looking to pick one up, these local bakeries have your back:
If you know of more bakeries, leave them in the comments!
And if you're feeling super Martha-Stewarty, here's a recipe to make your own.