Diary of a Home Cook
Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we fast… Are you ready for Fat Tuesday? I am. Fat Tuesday is a day of indulgence and excess that precedes Lent for all Catholics in the world. Lent is comprised of 40 days of penance, fast and abstinence in preparation for Easter so you are allowed, and encouraged, to indulge big time the day before Lent begins. It is fun and festive and is a true party for the senses and the appetities.
Everybody has heard of Mardi Gras (The word Gras in French means “Fat,” while Mardi means “Tuesday.” Ergo, “Fat Tuesday.”) but not everyone has experienced it. When my boys were little we lived in a suburb of New Orleans and left town every year at Mardi Gras because of the millions of people that swarmed to the city. I went once and that was enough of the crowds for me but some people are addicted to it and I can fully understand that. It is a great party with masked people on enormous floats throwing beads, dubloons, and trinkets to the crowds. Many cities in the United States celebrate Mardi Gras. Galveston, Tx near us is riding high with floats and parades right now, but the predominant celebration in the U.S. remains New Orleans, Louisiana. Festivities begin a week before Ash Wednesday with parades daily and are filled with excessive drinking, eating and partying. There are some musts for Mardi Gras, one being going to Pat O’Briens bar for a Hurricane drink in a special hurricane glass and, if you are able to stay on your feet, you can actually walk through the French Quarter with it in your hand. For some people it doesn’t take much to make a holiday, and the people of Louisiana have it in their veins, from Mardi Gras to crawfish boils to St. Joseph Feasts and more. Growing up in Louisiana some 60 miles from New Orleans we joined in the spirit of the Mardi Gras season but only celebrated on the day of Fat Tuesday itself.
Because fasting begins on Wednesday, Fat Tuesday is traditionally the day and night that food becomes a major item as the time to eat without inhibition. We stuff ourselves with precisely the things we will deny ourselves during Lent; candy, cokes and sweets of all manner, are the most prevalent. And we celebrate…with parades, family gatherings and other traditional get togethers and of course there is King Cake (Picture from Taste of Home) which designates the Queen of the celebration or the next person to bring the cake. For more on the history and recipe of king cake check out http://www.gumbopages.com/food/dessert/king-cake. Come Ash Wednesday we will endure 40 days without partaking of the things that tempt our fallen nature. Fat Tuesday here we come, rolling into Ash Wednesday sated and satisfied and ready to fast.
In our family we always made merry on Fat Tuesday. At home each person would request their favorite indulgence and I would see that it all appeared at the appropriate time and we would eat heartily. This year I don’t have a family to prepare for but will indulge myself with a hot fudge sundae, and maybe even a cupcake from our nearby Kup N Kakes, which I ordinarily deny myself because of my diabetes. It will be even sweeter because of Lent following. Of course, at my age I am no longer required to fast, so whatever I deny myself is just a little extra. Let’s get to the planning and see what we can come up with for a great Fat Tuesday. I was treated so good for Valentines that it is hard to decide what to have on Mardi Gras. Maybe more boiled crawfish! Yum! That is a definite indulgence. And my hot fudge sundae, and maybe a cup of gumbo and a fried soft shell crab. I do dearly love my Louisiana seafood. Of course Lent is about not eating meat on Friday’s, so maybe I should work in some fajitas. The list is now bigger than my capacity to consume. That’s okay, honey bunch is here to help me. I do hope you start a new tradition in your family if you haven’t before and enjoy Mardi Gras to the fullest. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what’s going on at your house.
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Ya’ll have a down home delicious day now and come back to see us again soon!