Thursday, February 27, 2014



Mardi Gras History and Traditions.

 Mardi Gras is about music, parades, picnics, floats and excitement. It's one big holiday in New Orleans! Everyone is wearing purple, green, and gold, and adorned with long beads caught from the beautiful floats.

Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”.  The name comes from the ancient custom of parading a fat ox through Paris on this day.  The ox was to remind the people that they were not allowed to eat meat during Lent. Lent runs from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday. 
This year MARDI GRAS begins on "FAT TUESDAY" March 4th.  The date depends on when Easter falls ( APRIL 20, 2014)
 Traditionally, it is the last day for Catholics to indulge—and often overindulge—before Ash Wednesday starts the sober weeks of fasting that come with Lent. 

A Krewe is the word for an organization that creates the balls and parades during Mardi Gras. Each Krewe has several members and a captain. Krewes are practically a secret society in New Orleans. Throughout the year, the Krewe builds floats and holds meetings in secret, on the day of their parade they ride as masked riders.  Every Krewe holds their own parade leading up to Mardi Gras, There are now dozens of Krewes. Each Krewe has its own style, such as The Muses- an all female Krewe or Bacchus- a Krewe famous for its “super floats” and celebrity riders. The larger Krewes designate a royal party each year. The royal party has a queen and a king who preside over the parade in their own floats.

The tradition of throwing beads and small trinkets from the parade floats dates back almost as long as the parades themselves.  Throws started in the 1920s when Rex and a few other Krewes started throwing small trinkets. Today, you can catch almost anything from a masked rider- stuffed animals, plastic cups, small toys and even bags to hold all your goodies.

The purple, green and gold seen everywhere during carnival season can be attributed to Rex, the original daytime Mardi Gras krewe. 
 The result was the purple, green and gold, the official colors of Rex and soon Mardi Gras itself. The colors themselves have symbolic meaning. Purple stands for justice, green for faith and gold for power. Today, the Mardi Gras colors are seen on everything from costumes, to beads to throws.

Doubloons predate Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans. Doubloons were actually the first type of coins minted in America and go back as far as the early 1700s. The doubloons we think of now- the two sided coins thrown from the parade floats- started in 1960 with Rex. H Alvin Sharpe created the first doubloons. These doubloons had the Krewe’s name, emblem and founding date on one side and the current year and theme of the parade on the other side. Soon every Krewe was tossing their own doubloons and now they’re so popular people are willing to get their hands trampled just to get one.

New Orleans-Style Shrimp

  • Coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large celery stalk, diced small ( 3/4 cup)
  • 1 small bunch scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 large lemon, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 3/4 pounds shell-on extra-large shrimp, deveined


  1. STEP 1

    In a medium saucepan, bring 2 1/4 cups salted water to a boil. Add rice, stir, and return to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook until rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  2. STEP 2

    Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot, melt butter over medium-high. Add celery, scallion whites, and garlic and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add Creole seasoning and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
  3. STEP 3

    Add Worcestershire, lemon, and shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are pink and coated with sauce, about 4 minutes. Serve shrimp over rice with scallion greens on top.
Everyday Food, April 2010

Carnival Jambalaya


  • 5 cups water
  • 1/4 cup oil (optional)
  • 2 8-oz. boxes Zatarain's Jambalaya Mix
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 pound smoked sausage, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions

    1. Bring water and oil to boil in large saucepan. Stir in rice mixes, chicken and sausage; return to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 25 minutes or until rice is tender.
    2. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Sprinkle with green onions.

Makes 12 (1-cup) servings

Notes, Tips & Suggestions 
Variation: Two cups cubed cooked ham and/or 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and halved crosswise, may be added to rice mixture after 10 minutes of cooking time.
SOURCE: Zatarins

The drink:  SAZERAC

Designated the official cocktail of New Orleans by a 2008 act of Louisiana legislature, the sazerac is sometimes referred to as the oldest known American cocktail.
In a chilled Old-Fashioned glass, pour 1 ounce of simple syrup. Add three dashes of Peychaud’s bitters, a floral, aromatic bitters from New Orleans.
Pour in 2 ounces rye whiskey. Swirl those ingredients together to blend. In a separate chilled Old-Fashioned glass, pour a bit of absinthe and swirl to coat the inside of the glass. Discard the excess.
Then pour the rye mixture into the absinthe-coated glass. Swipe a lemon twist around the edge of the glass and then use as a garnish.

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