Monday, February 23, 2004

They Call it Mardi Gras for a Reason ...

Happy Lundi Gras! I'm swimming in king cakes this year. My mother has been very nice almost every year since I left Louisiana to arrange for a king cake to be sent up to D.C., Massachusetts, or wherever I have been living at the time.

The past few years, however, have been a time of tribulation. Ever since McKenzie's went out of business, my family has had to search for a decent king cake (and their buttermilk drop doughnuts are sorely missed, too). As Arcade, "Tulane's lifestyle magazine," noted a few years ago:
For the record, the only proper place to buy king cake is at McKenzie's bakery. If you're not sure where your local McKenzie's is, pick up a stone and hurl it in a random direction. You can't throw a rock in this town without hitting a McKenzie's, K&B or Popeye's.
Sadly, K&B Drugs was long ago gobbled up by Rite Aid, and McKenzie's is also lost to history. And with the loss of McKenzie's there has been a need to find a new king cake. Two years ago, mom sent one from Gambino's, and last year she sent one from Haydel's. Both were yummy, but none compare to the memory of McKenzie's king cakes.

This year, she turned to a locally sourced king cake (locally meaning from the North Shore instead of from Orleans or Jefferson Parish). This was the first year this bakery has tried shipping king cakes to the Louisianan diaspora. The cake itself is pretty tasty -- the dough is a little more like strudel in consistency than brioche (which is what I consider traditional), and it's more heavily iced that the traditional McKenzie's king cake, but such is the fashion these days -- but the shipping, well, let's just say there were a few problems.

On Friday, my mom called to inquire whether or not Evelin and I had received anything. When told "no," she let out a few choice words for the bakery. Apparently, there was a bit of a misunderstanding, and the bakery had shipped the cakes on Wednesday via UPS Ground service, instead of overnight or two-day. She called them back and got things rearranged so that fresh king cakes would be sent out overnight (for arrival either today or tomorrow): one to Evelin's office, one to mine.

This morning, two packages arrive. Both labeled UPS Ground. Before opening things, I checked the tracking numbers: These are both of the Wednesday-shipped king cakes. (One was supposed to have gone to Evelin's office, one to mine; instead, I got both). I called my mom, who was going to try to see if my father got tracking numbers for the next-day king cakes, but, in the meantime, I called Evelin and she said to just let my office tear through both king cakes. (These are both cinnamon-filled; the replacement ones are cream cheese-filled -- very untraditional, but supposedly quite tasty and the filling helps keep the cake moist during shipment.)

So far, one of the is 70% devoured; the other is untouched. Hopefully, afternoon munchies will get rid of the remainder before the end of the day.

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