It’s that time of year in New Orleans: CARNIVAL TIME! And with carnival (yes, I call the season “Carnival,” and the final day of the season only “Mardi Gras.” My Maw Maw taught me right, after all. But I digress…) comes KING CAKE! I am a purist and do NOT eat king cake out of season. I take it as bad form if not outright bad luck. And changing the color of the sugar to red and green does NOT make it NOT king cake. Sheese. Again, refocusing…
Haydel’s Bakery adds a ceramic doll to its king cakes. Each year, it’s a different set of dolls. When the Saints won the Superbowl, they had three Saints-themed dolls, including a flying pig. Post Katrina, a Captain Blue Tarp doll and a FEMA trailer float. The dolls are as uniquely New Orleans as the artist who creates them, Alberta Meitin-Graf. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak at last year’s Jefferson Parish Library king cake party. (Damn, I love this town!) She’s simply fascinating.
This year’s theme does not disappoint in its nod to Louis Armstrong’s famous expression when he ended his letters: “Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours.” I give you the Red Bean Lady and her Rice-ly Escort carrying a trumpet.
New Orleanians took the most mundane day of the week, Monday, wash day, and of course turned their attention to food. A pot of red beans slowly, cheaply, simmering on the stove as the laundry was done. Even today, with mothers working and not doing wash all day on Mondays, we STILL eat red beans on Monday. It’s like going home again.
Why would you live elsewhere than where Mondays are Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours?
Enjoy Carnival! And king cakes! And if you find a king cake offers you too much sugar, do what I do: tap it into your coffee.
This post was originally published on http://www.nolanotes.com on January 19, 2012.