New Orleans is an extraordinary city, and with its unique culture and history. As New Orleans prepares to celebrate it tricentennial in 2018, the city’s history is ever more at the forefront.
Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday in French, falls 46 days before Easter. This year it occurs tomorrow, February 28. It marks the final day of the Carnival season and the day before Lent begins. Those who participate in it tend to pig out.
Local cuisine is a delightful mixture of Creole, Cajun, French, soul food and a number of other styles. These are some of the common foods that are eaten during Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Red Beans And Rice
This classic New Orleans dish can be served as a side or even a main dish. Although you will find many variations, traditional New Orleans style red beans and rice including onions, peppers, parsley, celery, garlic, smoked ham or ham hock, bay leaves, thyme, hot sauce, creole seasoning and rice. In some recipes andouille sausage is used in the place of ham hock.
There are many different gumbo restaurants to choose from in New Orleans. Many of them contain chicken, okra & sausage. However, there are many different gumbo variations, including vegan recipes.
This dish is very versatile as it tends to be a mishmash of ingredients that you have on hand. Fish or shrimp versions of jambalaya tend to be popular.
Shrimp Malacca with Rice
Creole style shrimp made with bell peppers, onions, tomato puree, cayanne pepper, garlic, creole seasonings and curry powder.
Étouffée (pronounced ay-too-fay) is French for “smothered,” and this dish is just that – crawfish smothered in a creamy, rich sauce that you can only get in Southeastern Louisiana. Combine poblano peppers, cayenne pepper, thyme, paprika, onions, celery, garlic, flour to make the cream sauce. While on the subject of craw fish you will see a lot of dishes that include crawfish from bisque to a hot dog topping.
New Orleans Beignets
The official state donut of New Orleans. Although you will find rich, savory and sweet options, a true beignet is a square donut with powdered sugar on top. Cafe du Monde is the most famous place to have a beignet in New Orleans. If it’s too full, try Cafe Beignet off of Royal Street.
Here is the recipe from Cafe Du Monde if you would like to try making some at home.
- 1 cup of lukewarm water
- 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
- 1/2 a tsp of salt
- 1 large egg (room temperature & beaten)
- 2 Tbsp of softened butter
- 1/2 a cup of evaporated milk
- 4 cups of bread flour (you can also use all purpose flour)
- 3 tsp of instant active dry yeast
- vegetable oil for frying: use just enough oil to completely cover the beignets when frying.
- powdered sugar for dusting these delicious snacks.
Cafe Du Monde Beignet Recipe Directions
- Use a (a) bread machine or (b) dough mixer.
a. If you use a bread machine – Add all of the liquid ingredients, then add the dry ingredients with yeast last. Select dough setting and press Start, allow to run only until the dough cycle has finished.
b. If you are using a mixer with a dough hook – Place the water, sugar, salt, egg, butter, evaporated milk, flour, and yeast in the bowl. Beat until the texture is smooth.
- Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and form all of the dough into an oval. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the bowl until it is chilled (at least 3 to 4 hours) or overnight.
- To prepare the dough for cooking, remove the bowl from the refrigerator and roll it out on a lightly floured board to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into approximately 3-inch squares, triangles, or circles. (or let the kids join in on the fun using large cookie cutters)
- In a deep fryer or large pot, heat vegetable oil to 365° F. Fry the beignets (2 or 3 at a time) for 2 to 3 minutes or until they are puffed and golden brown on both sides, turning them in the oil with tongs once or twice to get them evenly brown; beignets will rise to the surface of the oil as soon as they begin to puff. (NOTE: If the beignets don’t rise to the top immediately when dropped into the oil, the oil is not hot enough.)
- Remove the beignets from the oil and place them on a plate covered with paper towels to drain, then sprinkle heavily with powdered sugar. Serve hot.
The dough can be kept for up to a week in the refrigerator – it actually improves with age; just punch down when it rises. (Dough can also be frozen; shape beignets before freezing.)
This Cafe Du Monde Beignet Recipe is great for a breakfast meal. Beignets are normally served with powdered sugar and coffee. But beignets are also great for dessert. Just add some sweetened berries on top, and a big dollop of whipped cream. If you dont want to go through all the trouble of mixing all this from scratch, Cafe du Monde does sell a ready made beignet mix.
This is one of the most popular things to eat during Mardi Gras. It is thought to have first been made over 300 years ago and was originally similar to a crusty loaf of bread with beans inside and sugar on top. Today there are different variations of it, but it normally consists of a brioche dough that’s sweet and shaped like a hollow circle. It’s often topped with colored sprinkles that represent the colors of Mardi Gras. What’s interesting about this cake isn’t what’s on the outside, but what’s on the inside. A small plastic baby is baked inside of the cake and the person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket in it will sometimes get a prize.
What They Eat In Other Countries
The United States isn’t the only country that celebrates Mardi Gras. In many European and Caribbean countries, they indulge in pancakes. This is because things like butter, eggs and fat are forbidden during lent so they indulge in them the day before they have to give them up for 46 days. In Sweden they eat a puff pastry filled with whipped cream. It’s called semlor and is very rich. It’s estimated that each pastry contains over 500 calories! In Poland locals celebrate Fat Tuesday by eating a deep fried donut that has some sort of filling. It’s has a high calorie count as well at 500+. In Iceland they eat not only desserts, but pea soup and salted meats. Many of the foods they like to eat have an extremely high sugar or salt content.