Mardi Gras returns to New Orleans

Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday (aka Mardi Gras) and festivities are in full force in New Orleans after a pause in 2021 due to Covid. Celebrated as the last extravagance before the austere days of Lent, Mardi Gras features indulgent food and drink. Even if you don’t celebrate the religious holiday, the festival is a good excuse to eat classic New Orleans-inspired food. The website PureWow also has a listing of 34 Mardi Gras foods to celebrate at home. Going with a throwback, indexed magazine Saveur featured an entire Fat Tuesday menu several years ago, starting with the classic New Orleans cocktail, the Sazerac.

New Orleans feasts frequently include gumbo as the main dish. There are varieties to suit almost any appetite, with variations that include shrimp, chicken, sausage (including andouille and tasso), duck, and even several vegan offerings. If you are daunted by the thought of making a long-cooked roux, a hallmark of most gumbo recipes, jambalaya would also suit the occasion.

Jambalaya doesn’t require a roux yet it is thicker than gumbo, featuring rice in the dish itself whereas gumbo is usually served over rice. Many people think of jambalaya as a relative of paella but with a definite New Orleans slant. Jambalaya often includes many of the same meats as gumbo including chicken, shrimp and sausage, but there are ham and vegetarian versions as well.

While colorful king cake may be the king of Fat Tuesday desserts, there are other tasty options. Pillowy beignets and rum-spiked bananas Foster are also quintessential New Orleans sweets. Bread puddings are also popular desserts from the region. What’s on your Mardi Gras menu?

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