On Cameras, Instagram and Mardi Gras

Late last week, my camera departed for the great camera boneyard in the sky. Alas, my humble little Canon powershot is no more. (Cue the violins.)

It wasn’t old so much as pointed-and-clicked to death… I think it was sheer overuse that did it, and maybe the fact that I didn’t exactly keep it swaddled in bubble wrap every second of its life. I got it in 2011 right before we left the States; it did the rounds with me all over France and Berlin, Germany and Casablanca, Morocco. Then it photo-documented our five-month adventure in Texas before we came back to Arizona. I always had it with me.

Its demise on Friday morning happened quickly and without warning, and I had to do something fast, right? Because being without a camera is just weird in a not-good way. I was going to spend the weekend taking pictures of things for my February Favorites post, which obviously didn’t happen!

In the end, instead of getting a new camera, I decided to get a phone featuring a decent camera. This means three things:

–I no longer have to carry around a camera and a phone.

–I finally have instagram.

–Because of instagram, I predict that I’ll be taking more pictures than ever.

But before all that insanity begins – before I can start inundating my instagram with gratuitous selfies and pictures of what I’m wearing and the food I’m eating and the interesting people in Walmart and Arizona sunset after Arizona sunset and whatever other clichéd subjects you can think of – I need some time to acquaint myself with both my new camera and instagram, itself.

All of this to say that while my February Favorites post is going to be late, I do have an image to share with you today! I first saw this when it jumped out and tried to kill me as I scrolled through my blogroll last week (I’m looking at you, Junk Food Guy).





Yes, that would be a gigantic plastic baby whose bib reads I HEART KING CAKE.

This is nightmare fuel. Pure, unadulterated nightmare fuel on a basketball court.

You might recall that during Mardi Gras season last year, I wrote about the Mardi Gras king cakes here in the States and the French version (the Galette des Rois), and I mentioned the little plastic baby tucked inside that bestows royal status upon the person who finds it in their slice? Well, what you see in the image above is the New Orleans Pelicans basketball team’s nod to Mardi Gras, bringing that little plastic baby to life on their basketball court as a seasonal mascot to honor the occasion. I, for one, find this horrifying life-size plastic baby (Jesus?) to be one of the most awesome mascots to ever grace a basketball court. Good job, Pelicans!

On that note, I must run off now. Here’s a link to my fledgling instagram page for those who wish to follow: www.instagram.com/thatasianlookingchick

Happy Mardi Gras!

CAKE! (Now That I Have Your Attention)…

Happy February! Let us eat cake.

“It’s funny how much bigger Bruce Willis is than Ronnie James,” said Callaghan as he watched our cats play together. “They remind me of the Galette des Rois.”

Galette des Rois. Cats. I’m always intrigued by Callaghan’s mental leaps.

“Galette des Rois” translates to English literally as “Kings’ Cake.” In the States, we usually just call them “King Cakes.” They hit Louisiana bakery shelves on 6 January (the beginning of Epiphany) and roar on up to the Mardi Gras carnival celebration in the middle of February (the culmination of Epiphany, the last three days of which are known as the big Mardi Gras street bash after which hardly any of the carnival-goers remembers what happened because of the epic scale of the debauchery that took place). King Cakes are as heavily associated with the New Orleans Mardi Gras as beer, boobs and beads. They are not, as far as I know, associated with cats. Nor do they resemble cats, even remotely.

For one thing, cats are not ring-shaped twists of yeasty dough, and they are not sweetened with icing and dyed purple, green and yellow.

I guess some of the French patisseries in New Orleans also offer the solid round puff-pastry French version of the King Cake, but the traditional New Orleans garish rings are what come to mind when I think of King Cakes… so much so that when Callaghan first pointed out the Galette des Rois to me here in France, I didn’t even realize I was looking at the same thing.

“Like the ones we saw at Lili Croustille the other day?” Callaghan continued as he spoke of the cats. “I was looking at the Galette des Rois, you know, at the 8- and 6-part ones. Bruce Willis is the 8-part one.” I figured that by “part” he meant “serving.”

We’d actually bought one those cakes, an event I won’t likely forget because I’m human, and humans have a tendency to remember embarrassing moments for all eternity. Because when we got home from Lili Croustille and I went to cut that cake, I couldn’t do it.

I inserted a sharp knife blade into the buttery, flaky crust and hit resistance right away. I pressed harder, but the knife didn’t progress. I started sawing the knife back and forth, quickly checking over my shoulder first to make sure Callaghan didn’t see me struggling to slice the delicate dessert. No luck. Finally, feeling completely ridiculous, I added downward pressure to my sawing action. And then I gave up.

I’m sure Callaghan thought I was hopeless, but he gamely came over and looked down at the cake where it rested all innocent-like on its little round cardboard thing. The cake looked smug. It was grinning up at me. Yes, it was.

“What’s wrong?” Callaghan asked as he studied the cake.

“It doesn’t cut,” I said, accusingly.

I took hold of the knife again and made another attempt with Callaghan standing there, watching. Once again, the knife stopped half-way through. I kept the blade where it was and moved it slightly to the side and saw a small, hard figurine. A figurine! I made the connection. I guess King Cakes all over the world have a figurine or something equally menacing inside, poised to choke a person or foil her slicing attempts.

Callaghan never did elaborate on his thought process.

King Cake, French style (Galette des Rois)

King Cake, French style (Galette des Rois)

King Cake, New Orleans (Mardi Gras) style

King Cake, New Orleans (Mardi Gras) style

Bruce Willis (right) and Ronnie James (left)

Bruce Willis (right) and Ronnie James (left)

See a resemblance?