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 Mardi Gras, one of the most widely-celebrated block parties.
The French translation for Mardi Gras is ‘Fat Tuesday’, aptly named because it’s the last opportunity to feast lavishly before the self-deprivation period of Lent. The annual carnival culminates one day before Ash Wednesday.
A pageantry of parades, showcasing elaborately costumed celebrants aboard colorful floats, characterizes the festivities. Lively strains of jazz resound through the streets and the spicy aromas of Cajun and Creole cuisines 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 and Creole fare are easy to prepare.
Simple nibbles include sliced andouille sausage with honey mustard sauce, boursin cheese with crudités, spiced nuts and fried catfish cakes. Stock the bar with all of the fixings for traditional hurricane cocktails. Offer entrées of jambalaya and 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 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!”