Find the tiny plastic baby and the next king cake is on you. Photo via Where Ya At Matt.

This is only the second Mardi Gras season for food truck Where Ya At Matt, but already his (highly enthusiastic) fan base knows that January and February mean house-made king cake.

A New Orleans native who roams the streets dispensing Creole classics like gumbo and po’boys, Lewis is offering this traditional pre-Lenten treat right up to Mardi Gras, February 21. The Louisiana version of king cake, he says, is “basically a braided cinnamon roll” iced in the colors of Mardi Gras. The purple stands for justice, green for faith, and gold for power, and the braid is meant to look like a king’s crown.

King cake makes first appears on Epiphany, usually January 6. Whether you find it in a French Quarter bakery, or a Seattle food truck in an Interbay parking lot, the sweet’s arrival means it’s officially carnival season, says Lewis. Slices are $3 and you can preorder a whole cake on his website for $35.

It’s tempting to consume your slice quickly, as it does indeed taste like an enormous cinnamon roll. Just bite with care: Each cake has a tiny plastic baby hidden within. Traditionally, says Lewis, “Whoever finds it throws the next party.” It also has a few other meanings.

All this revelry leads up to Mardi Gras, one final blowout before Ash Wednesday puts an end to all the overindulgence and ushers in Lent.

“In New Orleans we have a way of turning anything into a party, including religion,” says Lewis. “Anything you do during Mardi Gras up until February 21 is forgiven by the church. I promise.” Including consuming gluttonous amounts of king cake.

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