Looking for an excuse to throw a party just to liven up the winter doldrums? The people of New Orleans will do just that when they host one of the most widely celebrated block parties.
The annual carnival of New Orleans culminates in the fanfare of Mardi Gras, one day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, aptly named because it’s the last opportunity to feast lavishly before the self-deprivation period of Lent.
Festivities are characterized by a pageantry of parades showcasing elaborately costumed celebrants aboard colorful floats. Lively strains of jazz resound through the streets and the spicy aromas of Cajun/Creole cuisine waft through the air.
Instead of hopping a flight to New Orleans, mark your calendar and plan to host your own affair. And if you don’t happen to have Emeril Lagasse on speed dial, peruse online recipes. Most standards of Cajun/Creole fare are easy to prepare.
Simple nibbles include sliced andouille sausage with honey mustard dipping sauce, boursin cheese with crudités, spiced nuts and fried catfish cakes. Stock the bar with all of the fixings for traditional hurricane cocktails. Offer entrees of jambalaya and seafood gumbo, and fry up some beignets to serve with chicory coffee for dessert.
Deck the halls in traditional Mardi Gras hues of purple, green and gold. Drape strings of beads over every surface. Offer beads and masks to your guest and keep the mood festive by blasting a unending variety of jazz and zydeco tunes.
It’s all about good food, good times, and good guests. And remember, the lucky individual who discovers a baked doll in the king’s cake will be dubbed king for the day and, better still, host of the next big party.
As they say in New Orleans, “laissez les bon temps rouller!”