Mousey Gras

So I went to a Mardi Gras parade on Sunday. At Disneyland. Which is a little like going to Las Vegas by playing video poker at home. The basics are there, but the ambiance is not quite the same.

Not that it was horrible. True to Disneyland standards, it was painstakingly false. By which I mean that Disney can accurately reproduce anything on Earth. Take Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, for instance. Wonderful Tudor-looking mansion. Seems completely authentic.

Until you notice the Mr. Toad faces carved into the beams.

It’s like they’re saying we’re going to pretend that you’re somewhere else, but we’re not going to let you forget where you really are.

I think that’s why there was such an uproar when they changed the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. It was totally original. No Mickey, no Pluto, just pirates burning and pillaging as they sang. Only the coolest ride in the park. (Well, okay, Haunted Mansion is pretty close unless you are feeling like roller coasters, then, of course, it’s Space Mountain.) Which was great until someone somewhere decided that the ride had to look more like the movie that was based on it.

Which is a little like someone filming your life story and then telling you that you’ll have to change the ending.

Now I suppose a person from, say, Nebraska, coming to the park for the first time would be thrilled to find Captain Jack Sparrow hiding amongst the original Animatronics. But those who grew up riding Pirates of the Caribbean were outraged. It was like tagging a Picasso. The ride was perfect the way it was. People could recite the dialogue by heart.

And now it was different.

I have to admit, I was one of them. Not totally outraged, but kind of bummed out. This was my favorite ride that I’d seen seventy billion times and now it wasn’t the same.  Captain Jack Sparrow stood out like a sore thumb. Not that he was badly done. They did an awesome job creating him. He looks exactly like Captain Jack Sparrow.

It was just that Captain Jack Sparrow didn’t belong there.

Anyway, the parade was a little like that. A great brass band.  A band leader with an umbrella dancing wildly out front. People in festive outfits dancing along behind them. Totally authentic looking.

Until you got to Minnie and Goofy.

Now, Goofy did look pretty cool in his jester’s outfit. Minnie was dressed as a queen, but she could have been queen of anything really. I think a real Mardi Gras queen would have had more feathers. But it was fun, nonetheless. Beads and music and dancing. They even had beignets.

Even if they were shaped like Mickey Mouse.

Mardi Gras in My Trunk

So I only went out to get a King Cake. Really. Just a King Cake.

Because even though I don’t live in New Orleans, I like to pretend that I do.

The trouble is that people in Los Angeles don’t even know what a King Cake is. I have to admit I didn’t know either until the first time I went to New Orleans. And just in case you don’t know, a King Cake is basically a ring of bread that can be filled, iced, sprinkled or draped with beads. They are only made during Carnival season which is the time between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday. But the important part is what’s inside. Because every true King Cake has a baby Jesus in it. Why? I’m not sure. But whoever gets the piece with the baby has to buy the next King Cake.

But making a King Cake from scratch is super hard to do and I wanted to take the easy way out this year. After some diligent searching, a post about someone’s else quest for California King Cake led me to Cost Plus World Market. They were supposed to have a boxed mix complete with baby.

Laissez le bon temps rouler!

Now I’ve never actually been to a Mardi Gras parade in the flesh, but I watch them online. Which can get a bit hilarious because the host and camera operator usually get more and more drunk as the evening progresses. By the end of the night, the camera is pointing at the sky and the host o’ the day has forgotten he/she is supposed to be announcing anything and is busy screaming for beads.

Which is sort of New Orleans in a nutshell really. Life improvised. What is supposed to happen and what does happen are not always the same thing.

Kind of like today at Cost Plus.

Because I walked in the door, expecting to find King Cake mix shoved onto some shelf next to the Carrot Cake mixes. What I found was Mardi Gras nirvana.  There was a whole Mardi Gras section! There were beads and beignets and masks and Tabasco chocolate and Zapp’s potato chips and bread pudding mix.

I almost rebroke my foot scrambling up the stairs to take a look.

The Zapp’s potato chips come in Voodoo or Crawtator flavor. I have no idea what either one tastes like. So I got both.

There are Bananas Foster flavored pralines. Tossed two of those in the basket.

King Cake mix. Grabbed two of those.

Oh, look, bread pudding. I love bread pudding. I spent one trip to New Orleans eating bread pudding at every restaurant we went to. And every single one of them was a little different. I highly recommend the bread pudding at the Champagne Jazz Brunch at Court of the Two Sisters, by the way. It was my favorite.

Tabasco-flavored dark chocolate. Hmmm…not really fond of Tabasco although I did love those Tabasco flavored Zapp’s potato chips I had a few years back. Guess I’ll try that too.

Grand total: two boxes of King Cake mix, one box of bread pudding mix, two bags of Voodoo chips, two bags of Crawtator chips, two Bananas Foster pralines, and a little round tin of Tabasco-flavored chocolate.

Plus a bag of Mardi Gras colored tortilla chips, which feels more Californian than New Orleanian, but perfect for a Californian celebrating a Louisiana holiday. (Well, the Louisiana version of a holiday anyway.)

The cashier smiled at my cart full of loot. “Mardi Gras party at your place?”

Me, grinning back, stupidly happy. “Apparently so.”