Monday, February 16, 2009

Carnaval - Mardi Gras

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.

King's Cake

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.


Reeni♥ said...

Hi Teresa, Thanks for sharing all the interesting info! I have always wanted to make my own King Cake. I have been fascinated by the tradition since I was a little girl.Your King Cake looks delicious, thanks for sharing! HUGS!

ARLENE said...

Teresa, as I was reading about King's Cake, I was thinking, "But what if the plastic melts and is toxic?" What a worry wort, but I'm with you on the choking hazard. I've always wanted to go to Carnaval or Mardi Gras in some exotic location. Guess I'll have to settle for my cabin in the woods. Great to see a post from you. Hope you're doing well. said...

Your King's Cake looks sweet and delicious!!! I was lucky enough to attend carnival in Brazil but I was 9 -- very vivid memories and smells!! What an awesome experience. I love your post, and I love history and trivia. Thanks, it was fun to read!!

Ivy said...

Carnival festivities are starting here in Greece as well. Your cake is worthy for a king to eat.

Happy cook said...

Wowo i lovr thzt king cake, looks so yumm.
Here too it is carnival next week and most of the pople are really excited to go and see it.
It is only 3 km from our place .

Ben said...

I never went to any of the carnivals in Mexico, but I heard they were wild! Hehe. Your post are always so informative, thanks for sharing your knowledge :)

Kelly said...

Your comment about the plastic baby cracks me up because I always worry about the same thing. Looks delicious though.

Megan said...

I've wanted to make one of these cakes but never have. Yours is beautiful.
I dont think I would bake the baby. Couldn't you just stick him in after baking.

Esi said...

Your King Cake looks fabulous! I am supposed to NOLA for Jazz Fest and you have me kind of excited for it!

Katie said...

The plastic baby always scares me too. Im always glad I don't get it.

Maria said...

What a festive and truly delicious looking King's Cake Teresa!

Foodycat said...

That is so interesting! I love the cake too - those colours are so nice.

Varsha Vipins said...

What a lovely cake..I loved that glittering gems on cake..Great Idea Teresa..:)
Thanks a ton for the visit n sweet comment ..:)

The Nomadic Gourmet said...

That cakes looks really good. Especially with that colored icing! My aunt is Mexican and she grew up in The Valley. So, I'm a bit aquainted with Texas-border cuisine and its too good! I'm practically addicted to enchalladas :)

The Blonde Duck said...

I could eat that whole cake...

Nazarina A said...

This king cake is adorable and the ingredients are so good, I use milk powder in some of my cakes too. I love how you decorated this Mardi gras beauty!

Anonymous said...

I love the thought of replacing the doll with a pecan!

You're cake looks so festive and beautiful. I hope your Martes Gordo was fun!