Fat Tuesday or as the French say Mardi Gras is a day of feasting on fatty foods and living it up before the Christian Lenten (Lent) season and fasting.
This colorful holiday also know as Shrove Tuesday, comes with a parade of floats, lots of beads and fun in New Orleans and celebrated around the country. If you cannot be in New Orleans, then celebrate in your home with Gumbo, Jambaya, or how about a Muffuletta sandwich. There is great food and music that comes out of New Orleans and this is the day to join in the fun!
Check out these recipes…
Gumbo Recipe – When you say Gumbo you are talking Louisiana, New Orleans. It originated in Louisiana early in the 18th century according to Cajun History. Gumbo is personal, like a good stew, every home makes it with the main ingredients and some additional for their own taste and flair.
Main ingredients of gumbo are a good roux (mixing equal amounts of fat and flour to make a thick sauce), okra, vegetables (the Holy Trinity, onions, green peppers and celery) meat and seafood. The seasoning that finishes off the Gumbo is File’ powder which is a spicy herb made for Sassafras leaves that is ground down to a powder and available in most grocery stores.
Jambalaya Recipe -A Spanish and French influenced dish that has seafood, meat, vegetables and rice. A must have in this dish is sausage that has been smoked, seafood (crawfish is popular in the area as well shrimp) chicken and pork. Very flavorful with the spices added.
Shrimp Etouffee Recipe – A New Orleans classic recipe that is beloved by both Cajun and Creole cooking. It is served over rice with seafood as its star ingredient that could be crab, crawfish or shrimp. It was created in the 1950’s, but some historians say it could go back to as far as 1920.
Muffuletta Sandwich Recipe – This packed with flavor sandwich originated with Italian immigrants that came to New Orleans, using a round loaf of bread and stuffing it with olive salad on the bottom, Salami, Swiss Cheese, Ham, Mortadella, and more. This sandwich is made for a crowd or you could make them in individual sandwiches on smaller rolls.
The King Cake Recipe – The King Cake is used in some countries for celebrating the Epiphany twelve days after Christmas and up to Lent. There are a variety of recipes but the main one has spices of nutmeg, cinnamon and made with yeast. The decorations are colors that came from the Christian religion, with purple symbolizing Justice, Green symbolizing Faith and Gold symbolizing Power. They honor the three Kings (Wise Men) who visited Jesus on the Epiphany twelve days after Christmas. These colors are used in the sugar topping that makes the frosting.
A small porcelain figurine toy or Fava beans were used for the baby that was traditionally hidden in the King Cake as a symbol to the baby Jesus. Today luck and prosperity is the symbol of the baby to many. The person who finds the baby in their slice of cake irresponsible for throwing the next years Mardi Gras party in some countries and is a designated King or Queen for the day. The beans and porcelain figures are today replaced with plastic toy babies and some bakers are leaving the baby outside of the cake to lessen the chance of liability of someone choking or swallowing the toy.
Enjoy Mardi Gras!