This is a puzzle I put together. Pretty isn't it?
Carnaval is celebrated in Mexico very much like Mardi Gras is celebrated in New Orleans. Dates for the festivities this year go from February 19h to February 24th. Lent begins on February 25th.
As most Catholics are aware, this amazing party time for revelers is filled with music, dancing in the streets, parades and, yes, a lot of eating and drinking. These things are the most popular in an offering of abstinence during the Lenten season up to Easter weekend.
Some of the most popular Mexican cities for experiencing Carnaval are: Mazatlan, Veracruz, Merida, Cozumel and Campeche.
Mazatlan holds the world’s largest (after Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans) Carnaval. The custom began over 100 years ago and it is reported that over 400,000 people come to take part in the festivities. There you enjoy parades, music, culinary delights and an amazing fireworks display.
Veracruz also offers another of Mexico’s exciting celebrations. If you’ll click on this link, you see photos of past celebrations that will get you in the mood to party.
Don’t have a passport? No problem.
Ensenada, in Baja California, just south (70 miles) of Tijuana, hosts the northernmost Carnaval celebration (and a perfect choice for those traveling without a passport, because you can cross into the country by land). Ensenada's Carnaval festivities include masquerade parties, carnival games, grand balls, street dancing and parades.
El Paso will not be left behind. The El Paso Scene Newsletter reports:
“Bourbon Street on Cincinnati Street ‘09 -- The annual Mardi Gras celebration in Kern Place is Fat Tuesday, Feb. 24. For the past five years Cincinnati Street has been free of vehicle traffic to provide El Paso with the biggest outdoor celebration in town featuring food, live outdoor music, drink specials and, of course, beads. Live music by Mexicans at Night, Damian Wyld and other bands to be announced. Gates open at 4 p.m. Admission: $10.”
Enjoy this time before the coming of Spring. You don’t have to be Catholic to enjoy the festivities. Spring is a time of renewal, of a new awakening. This period offers all revelers the opportunity to enjoy one last hoorah before the Spring-cleaning of the spirit begins.
I leave you with my version of King’s Cake. This cake is also served during the Epiphany. A little plastic baby Jesus is baked right into the cake and whoever gets this piece is bequeathed the honor of hosting the following year's celebration. I don’t like this custom out of fear that someone will inevitably choke to death on the object. Perhaps replacing it with a raisin or pecan might do the trick.
However you enjoy Carnaval, or Mardi Gras, remember to always take care. Over-indulgence is humankind’s downfall.
3 ½ cups cake flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup water
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup non-fat dry milk
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
8 egg whites
Light Lemon Glaze (recipe follows)
Colored sugar crystals, in purple, green, and gold or yellow
Small oven-safe doll or coin (a pecan or raisin may be substituted)
Preheat oven to 375°.
Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan. Sift flour before measuring and combine with sugar, water, oil, dry milk, baking powder, vanilla, and salt in a bowl. Mix until smooth.
Whip egg whites until stiff. Fold whipped egg whites into batter until evenly blended. Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes until cake bounces back when gently touched in the center. Turn out of pan onto cake rack; cool completely. Drizzle with Light Lemon Glaze and decorate with purple, green, and gold sugar crystals. Slice into 20 serving portions.
Light Lemon GlazeMix
1 cup sifted powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon grated lemon rind
dash of salt
2 to 3 tablespoons hot water until mixture is smooth and can be drizzled onto cake.