This year we celebrate Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) on Tuesday February 16TH. This is the last day of the Carnival Season before the start of Lent. There is no place better to celebrate Mardi Gras then the “Big Easy”. New Orleans celebrates in style with parades, costume balls, and parties. However, this year there will be no parades in New Orleans. Parades have been an integral part of the Mardi Gras festivities since 1857. There have been only 13 other times that the parades have been cancelled in New Orleans and all during times of war. This year, though, safety must come first… but that does not mean that we cannot CELEBRATE. And what better way to celebrate then cooking some of the luscious traditional foods to share with your family.

Two Traditional Foods of Mardi Gras:

Gumbo. Gumbo is the official state soup of Louisiana. There are many different types of gumbo, but all have some of the same universal ingredients. A roux base is essential. This mixture of flour and butter slowly cooked and stirred, so not to burn, gives the gumbo the rich brown smoky characteristic. Gumbos are either thickened by okra or file’ powder, which is dried ground sassafras leaves. Gumbo is actually an African word for okra. The other integral ingredient in gumbos is called the “holy trinity”, chopped up celery, bell peppers, and onions.  Gumbos can have all different types of shellfish, fish, duck, chicken, rabbit, and sausage. At Spice For Life, we have put together a classic New Orleans Creole Gumbo recipe, which uses file’ powder, to help you with your Mardi Gras celebration.

Red beans and Rice. We have a kick ass recipe for Vegan Red Beans and Rice. It is an easy and hardy recipe, which even the most voracious carnivores will love. Red beans cooking on the stove for hours is a New Orleans tradition. And it was traditionally cooked on Mondays when the wash was being hung on the line. Red beans and rice are so ingrained in the populace of New Orleans, that one of their most famous native sons, Louis Armstrong, would often sign his correspondence, “Red beans and ricely yours”. The key to cooking a good pot of red beans is to cook it slowly and well. Our recipe has you cooking the beans for at least 2 ½ hours on simmer. To spice them up, besides the traditional cayenne chile pepper, we also use our .Cajun seasoning. It is a wonderful blend of smoky paprika, ancho chili, black pepper, onion, garlic, salt, thyme, Mexican oregano, and basil.

So, though we may not be able to enjoy the Mardi Gras Parades this year, we can certainly still

Let the good times roll!

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