It has been brought to my attention that the talented blog writer for “Tongue in Cheek”, a blog about an American expatriate’s daily life in France (which can be found in my Blogroll), has been traveling in Venice during Carnival. I like to visit her blog from time to time for her absolutely stunning photographs, mostly of assorted treasures found at Paris flea markets, but this week I’ve been looking at the elaborate masks and headdresses of the partygoers at the 1,000-year old, two-week long Carnevale di Venezia. So, I thought I’d put aside my environmentalist urge to rip my hair out at all the waste produced as well as my socio-economic questioning of impoverished countries such as Brazil dumping so much money into such extravagant and costly productions and write a little post that gives just a taste (in pictures!) of the festivities currently going on around the world from Brazil and New Orleans (bien sûr!) to Germany, India, and even Mobile, Alabama (no joke). I prefer the wistful, romantic images from the Italian Carnevale to the bare bodies and vibrant colors of the Carnaval of Latin America or the beads-for-breasts approach of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras (kidding aside, some devoted revelers do manage to keep it festive but alas…young, drunk people ruin everything!).
And because random trivia interests me, I also found an article about the origins of the plastic baby (which is supposed to represent Jesus) that is baked into the king cake (galette des rois), the doughnut-shaped, frosted, yeast dough cake eaten from King’s Day on January 6th to the last day before Lent (Fat Tuesday). Apparently, this tradition began sometime in the late 19th century when the Twelfth Night Revelers, a New Orleans social group, began hiding a bean in the cake. The lucky finder of the bean became the king or queen of the ball. This is also the reason the king cake is sometimes called a Twelfth Night cake. The bean became a porcelain figurine when a traveling salesman gave several to McKenzie’s, a popular commercial bakery in New Orleans in the 1940’s. These became plastic babies when the baker ran out of the porcelain figures, but how these plastic babies became plastic baby Jesuses was not explained in the article and so remains a mystery to this blogger. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/02/17/147039138/is-that-a-plastic-baby-jesus-in-my-cake?ft=1&f=1001