Most people are confused with the Christian holiday that commemorates the biblical story of the three wise men, Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar, who followed the star to Bethlehem. They brought gifts to the Christ child.
Florence, Italy. In Latin America children dress up in king costumes and go door to door in their neighborhoods singing carols. Some children leave treats outside, like Christmas Eve milk and Cookies for Santa, except these goodies are for the three kings and their camels.
In France, people eat galette des Rois, or "king cake," that contains a trinket or bean hidden inside. The person who receives the piece of cake with the trinket becomes the "king" for the day. This year my husband, Jay, found the plastic baby (representing baby Jesus) hidden in his dessert and declared himself "king."
My party menu always features Cajun and Creole food. This year I served spicy Red Beans and Rice and golden sauced Shrimp Ettoufee. King Cake, more like coffee cake, was served for dessert but the real star of the party was Flaming Cafe Brulot. Strong chicory coffee is mixed with sugar, spices and then ignited with warm brandy and Grand Mariner liquor. Gorgeous. (Perhaps the flames got overly wild this year!) As usual, my husband and Gary Granfield did the honors with great fanfare and superior results.
recipe for Cafe Brulot.
Thanks to Angela K. Nickerson for the photo of the man in the Renaissance costume parade in Florence.