Happy Fat Tuesday everyone! It’s officially Mardi Gras and the South is atwitter with the merriment of the day. Mardi Gras dates back to Spring pagan celebrations of the ancient Romans, and evolved over time to become the last celebration before the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Because all heavy and excessive foods in the home needed to be eaten prior to Lent, the holiday also became known as “Fat Tuesday” as participants feasted to their heart’s content late into the night. While Mardi Gras has been a carnival of celebration in France since the Middle Ages, French explorers brought the holiday to the Americas in the 1600s and the party has never been the same.
On this festive day the eyes of the world turn to Louisiana, and New Orleans in particular, with their masked parades, balls and Creole and Cajun interpretations of the holiday. As soon as you mention Creole and Cajun (two Louisiana rooted cultures with different culinary styles) the mind immediately turns to food, which is my favorite part of Mardi Gras (or any day for that matter).
I was traveling for work and didn’t have time to whip up any specialties myself, but I moderate an amazing group of Southern Food Bloggers who’ve cooked up delectable specialty dishes for the occasion. Here is a top ten list (in no particular order) of their traditional creations below.
2. Cajun Chicken Nuggets from A Recipe A Day
3. Vegan Sausage and Mushroom Étouffée from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
4. Pecan Pralines from Simple Fare, Fairly Simple
5. Mardi Crawfish Spread from The Runaway Spoon
6. Beignets from Pattycakes in the Kitchen
7. Shrimp and Crawfish Étouffée and a Mardi Gras Table Spread from Syrup & Biscuits
8. Vegan Red Beans and Rice from Healthy Slow Cooking
9. Easy Jambalaya from A Recipe A Day
10. Mini King Cakes from Cooking With Libby
Did you know the traditional colors of Mardi Gras (purple, gold and green) used on the King Cake represent justice, power, and faith?
11. PANCAKES! I was remiss in my original posting for omitting the traditional evening meal of pancakes. Visit Rachel at Time for Good Food to learn the history of this breakfast for dinner tradition and see her round-up of pancake favorites. I also recommend the Toffee Nut Pancakes from Sommer at A Spice Perspective, Spelt Flour Pancakes from Chris at Mele Cotte, and my own Lemon Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes.
For more recipes visit my favorite Louisiana based blog Raised on a Roux, and check out her tasty Muffuletta sandwich. Yum!
Take a lesson from the Big Easy and celebrate and enjoy!