“It’s always has been a sugar town.” This is according to Dwight Henry, the owner of Buttermilk Drop Bakery and café in the 7th ward, New Orleans. That’s right, it’s New Orleans. The industry has started from the 18th century as spectacular fortunes amassed on the French and British owned sugar plantation and worked by the African slaves along River Road between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Women were called Pralinières for selling creamy rounds of brown sugar studded with local pecans called pralines along the street side of Jackson’s square. After the disaster brought by the hurricane Katrina, seven and a half thriving years and now New Orleans is back with delicacies.
It has been well-known for the different delicacies, particularly cakes. There are several delicacies only found here. They have the 17-layer cake called doberges, sugar dusted rice fritters called calcus, Sicilian ice cream with archaic flavors such as gelsomino (jasmine) and torroncino (sugar almonds and cinnamon). It has been common to the city to celebrate birthdays with doberges as their birthday cake. The well-known Krispy Kreme doughnuts was said to have their secret recipes from New Orleans’ yeast-raised beignets.
Familiar with the King’s cake? Very well-known not only in New Orleans, the King’s cake is a traditional cake baked with color green, gold and purple to signify faith, power and justice in complex symbolism of the Madi Gras. The cake is associated to the festival of Epiphany, in Madi Gras or carnival. The celebration begins with the eve of Epiphany or the twelfth night, the time the three kings visited the Baby Jesus and ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before the start of lent which is for this year, February 12.
The twist? The cake is baked with a trinket, a ceramic figure of a baby boy which represents the new born Jesus Christ. Started in 1930’s, it has been a tradition that whoever finds the trinket in the slice of the cake will be considered as the king or queen of the feast. As a prize, the person to have the trinket should receive a free lunch once a month for one year but in return, he or she must be the one to prepare and provide the cake for the feast next year which is actually quite expensive. Through this the tradition lived for so many years and the tale of the King’s cake continues.
Rivalries during the past among the bakers have been very dominant. Either where you must buy your King’s cake at Haydel’s or at Gambino’s were determined as you were born. These two bakeries are the oldest in New Orleans. As of today, there arise other bakeries that lived with the quality of good sweets such as Angelo Brocato Ice cream and Confectionery, Sucrè, Haydel’s, Gambino’s, Domenica, Cochon Butcher, Camellia Grill and Buttermilk Drop Bakery and Café. Might as well check it out to see for yourself.
Every city is a different world to explore. For such foods, you’ll never know that behind it is a huge history to discover. Now you might as well think that a simple dish or food that you eat right now is not just a taste on the tongue but behind is a living legacy of the past.