king cake

Lally Brennan and Poppy Tooker holding up a 2016 Pete Fountain Bobblehead at Commander's Palace.
Joe Shriner

It's Carnival time on Louisiana Eats! On this week's show, we learn about Carnival traditions both public and private, and celebrations both large and small. We begin with a lively discussion about New Orleans' Mardi Gras traditions with Errol Laborde, author of Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival.

Then, we make our way over to Commander's Palace, where Lally Brennan explains the part her family's restaurant plays in fueling Pete Fountain's Half Fast Walking Club on Mardi Gras morning.

King cakes have become a popular cultural icon in New Orleans, though some still look for the satisfaction of an old classic style.
Ian McNulty

King cakes have been popular in New Orleans for a long time. But not this popular. Something has changed.

King cake has become a cultural statement, one of those emblems of pride that New Orleans uses to celebrate itself. King cake is the Saints fleur-de-lis of food. You live it, you wear it, you rally around it.

Poppy Tooker and Carolyn Simmons, winner of the James Beard Foundation's Better Burger Project, on the patio of Blue in Shreveport.
Chris Jay

On this week's show, we catch up with some of the trailblazers and award winners of the Louisiana food scene and beyond.

Poppy Tooker

It's Carnival time in Louisiana! We'll take you into the secret realm of some of New Orleans' oldest Mardi Gras krewes by visiting Antoine's and Tujague's Restaurants. Antoine's fifth-generation proprietor Rick Blount gives us a tour of the Rex Room, the Proteus Room, the Twelfth Night Room, and the Hermes Bar. Then, Mark Latter of Tujague's shows us the infamous Krewe d'Etat Room, a place of rollicking misbehavior.

In sharp contrast to elaborate parades and krewes of New Orleans, Mardi Gras in Cajun Country is altogether different. From Lafayette, Toby Rodriguez and Lucius Fontenot talk to us about the prairie Mardi Gras traditions that make Acadiana unique.

Also, Robin Young, host of NPR's Here & Now, turns the tables on Poppy with an interview about Mardi Gras food. There's more to it than just King Cake!

Allons au Mardi Gras!

Ian McNulty

Ian McNulty

As the king cake joins a long line of New Orleans food traditions up for reinterpretation, bakers and shoppers alike have decisions to make.

King cakes used to be easy. You waited — usually — until the start of Carnival season to get one, you argued about your favorites through the season and eventually you’d groan when yet another cake materialized in the office break room. You had one last slice on Fat Tuesday and that was that.

A City Drenched in Sugar

Jan 30, 2013

Other cities might be trudging through cabbage season at this point in winter, but New Orleans is eating cake. From Twelfth Night to Mardi Gras, which is Feb. 12 this year, daily consumption of king cake — a round of sweet dough glazed with purple, gold and green sugar — is more or less compulsory.