Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday! Or as the French say…
Laissez les bons temps rouler, (Let the good times roll)!
In other words, there is one big party going on down in Louisiana and they are eating like there is no tomorrow.
Because for them….their good eating is being replaced.
A little background and a little explanation:
Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” which is a French Catholic practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the required fasting for the season of Lent begins.
In the late 17th century, Mardi Gras came to be a North American celebration shortly after French King, Louis XIV, sent two brothers, Jean-Baptiste and Pierre to defend France’s claim on the then territory of Louisiane, Alabama, Mississippi and part of Texas. The French colonists settled on the river in Alabama about 60 miles from New Orleans, later they would move to New Orleans.
The first Mardi Gras parade held in New Orleans is recorded to have taken place in 1837. The tradition in New Orleans expanded to the point that it became synonymous with the city in popular perception, and embraced by residents of New Orleans beyond those of French or Catholic heritage.
While not observed nationally throughout the United States, a number of traditionally ethnic French cities and regions in the country have notable celebrations.
The Captain and I celebrate with a nice quiet dinner with a few decorations. Quite different from the motto of Laissez les bons temps rouler, (Let the good times roll)!
I have a Mardi Gras tablescape and a suggestion for a Fat Tuesday Dinner using the colors of Mardi Gras. Each has a meaning: the purple represents justice, the green represents faith and the gold represents power.
My tablescape begins with my centerpiece, the King Cake. It sits atop a green charger on a cake pedestal. The three colors are shown in the sugared icing on the top of my King Cake.
You can’t have Mardi Gras without beads, coins and of course masks.
For the place setting, I used a green scalloped charger and set a white, gold rimmed dinner plate on top of that.
I added a purple soup bowl, purple napkin with gold napkin ring and purple flatware. The water glass is green.
There are various masks on the table which are usually associated with the masked balls, although many wear masks in the almost daily parades. The celebrations run for several weeks. This year they started on February 11 and will end on Fat Tuesday, February 28.
So let’s talk cake.
For years I have ordered a King Cake from a bakery in New Orleans.
The real deal if you know what I mean.
The King Cake has a history. The King Cake is believed to have originated in France. Early Europeans celebrated the coming of the three kings or wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child, twelve days after Christmas. Or Twelfth Night or the Feast of the Epiphany. In New Orleans, the tradition of serving King Cake during Mardi Gras appears to have come about the same time as all the celebrations started in the 1870’s. A unique character of the King Cake is a bean or coin was hidden inside the baked cake. It was said the person who got the hidden piece in their slice of cake was declared King for the day and good luck for the coming year. As the tradition evolved, a small baby shaped figurine replaced the bean or coin in the cake.
Originally, King cakes were slightly sweetened yeast loaves, shaped in a circle or twisted into a braid, topped with white icing and covered with glittering sugar. Now, they have evolved to include all kinds of cream cheese and fruit filling.
A few years ago, after receiving a mashed cake, I decided that I could make the King Cake. Less hassle and an assurance that the cake would be fresh and have known ingredients.
The King Cake recipe can be found here.
Although we have never had a desire to participate or watch one of the many parades or attend a masked ball during Mardi Gras, the Captain and I have our own celebration or more accurately, we take advantage of having a special dinner for just the two of us with a Mardi Gras theme.
I usually make Jambalaya or Red Beans and Rice or gumbo or something of that nature AND of course the King Cake. We love Jazz music and enjoy our own version of Mardi Gras.
This year, I am making Beef and Andouille Chunky Chili as well as Spicy Shrimp Po Boys.
Do you celebrate Mardi Gras?
Have a great day and I will be posting the recipes from “our” Mardi Gras celebration.
AND Thanks for your comments~ they make my day 🙂