Category Archives: King Cake

Mardi What??

I’m confused. I admit it. I’ve lived in H-town for thirteen years and I still get confused every year around this time. This whole Mardi Gras thing? I just don’t get it.

Part of the problem is that I grew up in rural Iowa and suburban north Dallas. As far as I know, there are no French people in Iowa. At least, not in our little corner. Everyone was German. We had the last names to prove it. Thiebauds and Thibodeaux? Nowhere in sight. But there were Bachmans, Langbehns, Mugges and Schultzes aplenty. And probably the best Oktoberfest in the state. Kraut, beer and brats? Yes please.
And in the ‘burbs north of Dallas Mardi Gras was Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday that we all learned about in French class. One day. One. One day where French people partied and ate all they could before Lent.
So what gives around here, folks? It literally seems like every suburb, nook and neighborhood has their own Mardi Gras association, crewe, parade and floats to prove it. Heck, in the ritzier parts of town there are actual debutante groups named after each crewe and ‘presented to society’ during the season. AND IT’S NOT JUST ONE DAY! THIS STUFF LASTS NEARLY A MONTH!!

You start seeing King Cakes in the stores just after New Year’s, I swear. I still don’t get the whole concept. A King Cake is basically a giant, mushy cinnamon-filled donut that’s decorated with nasty icing, green, purple and yellow colored sugars – and has a creepy plastic baby baked inside. Thirteen years later and I still don’t get what the deal is. I love donuts, but not squashy ones where you can taste the frying grease – and that’s pretty much what King Cake tastes like to me. They have them at work, church and school. But here’s the kicker – you can’t really eat the thing without ending up with green or purple teeth, lips and tongue. THAT looks professional! And I have no clue what the deal is with the plastic baby. I’m sure it means something if you get it, but the only thing I almost got from it was a cracked filling when I chomped on it. And I’m pretty sure gnawing a plastic baby into pieces won’t get you good luck.

And then there are the parades and parties. Galveston devotes two entire weekends to Mardi Gras. Last time I checked, Tuesday doesn’t fall on the weekend. What’s up with that? Every ‘burban Party City, Hobby Lobby and Michael’s has an entire Mardi Gras section starting just after Christmas. I had a hard time just finding plain ol’ birthday supplies two weeks ago for minion #1’s big day.

But the in-town stuff is apparently much more involved. Here’s what I mean. I heard an ad on the radio yesterday for a popular in-town store. Advertising ‘your one-stop shop for all your Mardi Gras needs: beads, decorations, boas, heels and more!’ Huh? Ok, I get the beads, but who knew I needed a feather boa and heels to celebrate the beginning of Lent? Oh, and I left out the best part! The store advertising all of these fancy party supplies is an adult novelty emporium – so you can also pick up your Mardi Gras lingerie while you’re there! This is sounding more and more like the Anne Rice ball my hairdresser went to one year. I got to hear all about that one for hours with a head full of bleach. He was so proud that he’d gotten his teeth filed to vampire points and capped silver during the festivities – and showed me, up close and personal. I found another salon after that day.

The Spouse and I must be really boring folk. I mean, we don’t even buy a King Cake, much less bust out the yellow, purple and green lingerie. Oh well. This is one time where I really don’t mind being boring.

So the only conclusion I can come up with is that this is a regional thing. And if we lived in the Big Easy, it would make sense. But H-town? Galveston? It’s not like we have some humongous French/Canadian/Cajun population roaming the streets. Sure, we have our share of Kibodeaux, Thibodeaux, Thiebaud, etc. – but that’s just a name. And holidays involving eating plastic babies just don’t get me excited.

Makes me miss my two hometowns even more. In Big D the highlight of the year was the State Fair (sorry Big Tex!) And you can’t miss Oktoberfest in small town Iowa. I’m drooling at the thought of a big juicy brat dripping kraut juice down my arm right now.

But no nasty King Cake please. My aunt’s strudel beats it hands down. And there’s never been a plastic toy in there… yet.

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