A good meal can offer a transcendent experience for those who truly enjoy food. If you’ve ever shared a really good meal with friends, or been transported to your childhood just by smelling your mom’s chicken noodle soup, you understand the power food has beyond the ability to nourish us physically. I view food as a kind of social glue, it is a tie that helps bind us to our communities and our cultures.
As a transplant to the Twin Cities, often the only connection I have with my Louisiana heritage is through the creole and cajun food I recreate in my own kitchen. My cultural connections have become especially important to me as I grow older and finally understand the need to connect to my personal and communal histories. While many of us in the Twin Cities are bundled up to face another icy day, many people in my home state will already be reveling in the warmth of Mardi Gras festivities.
Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, may have some detractors because of its association with drunken debauchery but I have so many wonderful memories of this holiday that have nothing to do with alcohol or Bourbon Street. Mardi Gras for me will always call forth memories of colored beads, fantastical parades, masks of many colors, and of course, delicious King Cake covered in gobs of gold, purple, and green sprinkles.
Since I can’t make it down this year for a real Louisiana version of the King Cake, I decided that I’d try my hand at making one myself. The name of this confection is a bit of misnomer since the process of making a King Cake is less like making cake and more like making bread. I usually try to describe it as a cinnamon roll that’s been made into a ring and then covered with glaze and colored sugars. If you’re interested in turning your boring Minnesota Tuesday into a bona fide Fat Tuesday, you can try your hand at the recipe I found to be most successful. Or, if baking bread in the middle of the week is more than you have energy for then try a simple jambalya. Either way, enjoy the connection that food helps you make with cultures, yours or the many others surrounding you.
You’ll also find Jess at the Selby store’s juice bar, making things run smoothly and tasting amazing!