23 February 2022
Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday” is an event that stems from the old French celebrations and enjoyment of rich and fatty foods that began with Epiphany (January 6) and lasted until Lent, or Ash Wednesday. We now associate Mardi Gras with the day before Ash Wednesday, or Shrove Tuesday. With Lent came the 40 days of fasting and penitence in spiritual preparation for Easter. So, it seemed like a good idea to have one last blow-out day of food and fun.
In New Orleans there are parades, costumes, and throwing candy or coins. You can have your own celebration, which can incorporate the entire family. It can become as elaborate or simple as you choose.
The traditional colors for Mardi Gras are purple (justice), green (faith), and gold (power).
- You can pick up some inexpensive beads at the dollar store, big box store, or craft store.
- Keep the color theme with balloons, paper plates, or other trinkets.
- Pick up fabric remnants to make a table runner.
- Decorate plain masks with glitter, sequins, feathers, or fabric scraps.
- Have a parade through your house. Just go from room to room making music on kazoos, makeshift drums, or penny whistles.
- Scavenger hunts are always a favorite. Give each team a separate list of clues (so they don’t just follow each other around) and have them take selfies instead of picking up and returning objects.
- If it is a party with both adults and children, set up a coloring station to keep the kids occupied while the adults chat.
What you serve will depend on a lot of things: the ages of the family/guests, personal tastes, time of day (brunch vs. evening meal vs. snack buffet), etc.
- Jambalaya is basically a shrimp and chicken stew that can easily be completed in a slow cooker.
- Shrimp and spicy sausage on skewers and set under the broiler or on the outdoor grill.
- Fried catfish turned into Po’ Boy sandwiches or sliders. Kids might prefer fish sticks.
- Cajun stuffed chicken breasts.
- Hush puppies.
- King cake is made from a brioche dough and can be filled with cinnamon, cream cheese, or chocolate. The top has a glaze or sprinkles in the traditional colors of gold, green, and purple. It usually has a small, plastic baby baked inside. Whoever gets the slice with the baby is responsible for bringing the next King Cake. Just be cautious with small children who could easily crack the plastic or attempt to swallow it. If you are not up to baking a brioche, ask your local bakery. You could easily substitute a box mix Funfetti cake.
- Beignets are sweet, small pastries often served with cafe au lait (strong coffee with cream). Again, if you are short on time or inclination, pick up some doughnut holes.
Hurricane punch is probably the best known for a Mardi Gras party. Be sure to clearly designate the spiked from the fruit punch.