Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's Carnival Season!

I finally took down my Christmas wreath this week, but immediately replaced it with an enormous, sparkling fleur de lis in purple, green, and gold. Yes, Carnival season has begun here in Louisiana. You may wonder why I chose to say Carnival and not the more common Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras is a French phrase which means Fat Tuesday. But Fat Tuesday is the name given to the last day of the celebration and is on February 21st this year. The “Mardi Gras” season began twelve days after Christmas.

The first day of Carnival season is Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day or Twelfth Night, when we celebrate the Wise Men’s arrival in Bethlehem. It’s then that we begin to see king cakes in bakeries and grocery stores, and people start taking the cakes to work or to social gatherings such as king cake parties. You may have heard that the cakes usually contain a little plastic baby. And you may know that the person who gets the piece of cake with the baby inside is said to have good luck and is responsible for providing the next king cake for the group to share. However, many people don’t realize that the baby represents Baby Jesus or that the circular shape of the cake and the sugar sprinkles on top are supposed to represent a jeweled crown.
Often king cake dough has the texture and flavor of cinnamon rolls, but some bakeries make theirs with the softer, sweeter dough used in Danishes. Both kinds are delicious, especially when they contain sweetened cream cheese or the kinds of fillings found in doughnuts. My favorite fillings are Bavarian cream and strawberry with cream cheese. When those flavors meet the sugary glaze and sprinkles on top, there’s little question why this event ends with a day called Fat Tuesday.

Carnival is so full of symbolism that it's not surprising the official colors -- purple, green, and gold -- are symbolic too. They were chosen in 1872 by the Krewe of Rex, one of the most well-known New Orleans parade associations. In 1892, members of Rex determined that purple would represent justice, green would symbolize faith, and gold would denote power.

Louisiana is famous for its delightful food, customs, superstitions, and pageantry. I intend to feature these and other cultural traditions in a series of romance novels I’m writing about a group of fun-loving folks with big dreams and big plans in a Gulf Coast tourist town. Look for the first book in March 2012.

I hope you find an opportunity to enjoy a king cake this Carnival season, and that you get to see a parade in your local area or in New Orleans. Life is too short to waste every day counting calories or sitting at home. Get out and enjoy yourself and laissez les bons temps rouler!

Want to have a king cake delivered by U.S. Mail to your front door? The best ones come from CafĂ© Perique in Gramercy, Louisiana. Call them at (225) 869-1774. Or if you live in southeastern Louisiana, visit them at 234 East Main Street, Gramercy.


Kathy Faucheux is a former foreign language teacher who married her high school sweetheart, joining a lively, close-knit French family from the New Orleans area. Recently widowed, she’s moved home to North Louisiana to be near her mother, best-selling author Jennifer Blake, and to pursue a writing career. She’ll publish her first book with Steel Magnolia Press in early spring.


Suzy said...

Welcome to the blogging world! Kathy I'm excited for you to be publishing your first book. I'm jealous too! I'd love to be able to try.
Suzy (Robin) Tompkins

Landra said...

Welcome Kathy! Can't wait for your first release. I love the authors with Steel Magnolia; a super fan girl! Glad to have you on board.

jamescruse said...

what some wonderful fun facts even being outside of your class and miles away i still learn interesting things from you.

Kathy Faucheux said...

Following a few technical difficulties, I'm finally able to thank all of you for your wonderful comments.

Thank you, Suzy, for the warm welcome. I'm sure you could be a great writer. After all, you've done a fabulous job with your own blog, Kitchen Bouquet!

Kathy Faucheux said...

Landra, I appreciate your faith in my ability to finish this work in progress. You're our favorite cheerleader! Let us know how we can return the favor!

Kathy Faucheux said...

Thank you so much, James. Once a teacher, always a teacher, I suppose. I'm glad you enjoyed both the blog post and my foreign language classes. And I hope school is going well. Best wishes for a bright future.