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  • Betsy Singleton Snyder

King Cake Season

After Christmas, I decided I’d better dial it back on the sugar and the carbs. I thought it would be nice to set an example for my children, who were also struggling with advanced, holiday sweet tooth. One can find a dessert to pair with every meal’s conclusion. In that regard, my boys are experts.

At the end of two weeks, sick of protein, I welcomed our Louisiana cousin to visit, a King Cake in her hands. It was for the boys, and I had absolutely no desire to taste it, that's what I told myself. This boxed beauty would be no different than the dry, stale bakes I’d had before, the ones on the grocer's half-price tables. There was no need to try it, none whatsoever.

As an aside, I cannot understand how these Louisianans go from Christmas to Epiphany, marching triumphantly into Mardi Gras season. For heaven’s sake, there is no break. It's one big party. Besides, that, the poor natives have to choke down that dry King Cake. Probably takes a month to finish it off. Bet they are glad to see Ash Wednesday and Lent arrive.

We cut into the King Cake on Sunday night after my cousin had left. All my kids got a slice. I didn’t want to be rude. I’d just take a tiny bite because there was no difference in Louisiana King Cake, and the Arkansas store bought ones we’d tried previously.

The soft, rich dough wasn’t dry. Holy Mother. Okay, it was a revelation. I suddenly understood why people south of us invented this whole “carnival” season, and don’t let up for six weeks! I fully grasped why they are unwilling to give up such a spiritual tradition cloaked in green, gold and purple sugar. Yes, I’d always appreciated the colored sugars, the symmetry, and the baby, but, now, the taste: I’d tasted a cake fit for a King, or two, maybe three.

Once we’d finished off the native cake some days later, my sister-in-law broke some additional news. Blue Bell has introduced Mardi Gras King Cake ice cream. It is described as “cinnamon ice cream with pastry pieces, candy sprinkles and a cream cheese swirl.” It is unavailable in Arkansas, for the love of all things sacred and pure and holy. I guess thousands must swear to celebrate full-stop the extended carnival season to produce a decent, potential market.

I swear. Next year, I swear.

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