Academic journal article Southern Quarterly

King Cake

Academic journal article Southern Quarterly

King Cake

Article excerpt

King Cake (2006), directed by S. Dixon McDowell provided another culinary documentary experience for NLCC attendees.

No examination of Southern food culture would be complete without looking at New Orleans cuisine. Though many of the panels and paper presentations during the 17th NLCC did so, the only film to tip its hat to The Big Easy was King Cake, a short documentary about the traditional Mardi Gras pastry. King Cake mixes street interviews from post-Katrina New Orleans, images from the Mardi Gras Museum, extraordinary footage from the kitchen of Paul's Pastry (a major supplier of hand made cakes), a Mardi Gras parade and even a small private party into a celebratory little film that is as colorful and delicious as - well, a king cake.

The film opens with scenes of the New Orleans French Quarter over the sound of live music by street performers. Interspersed with these images are interviews with tourists, a street clown and New Orleans locals who inform the audience about the tradition of the king cake; the significance of the Feast of Epiphany, or twelfth night, as the beginning of Mardi Gras; and share their memories of king cake parties from their past. But the film is not merely informational. It captures the mood of Mardi Gras by featuring the colorful floats, lively music and bead throwing mania of a parade.

A trip to Paul's Pastry in Picayune, Mississippi, where a very small crew make as many as 80,000 king cakes each year, provides a mouthwatering look at the creation of these delicacies. …

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