Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Happy Mardi Gras!

Happy Mardi Gras!!  Today is Fat Tuesday... the day that ends the carnival season.  If you're from an area that celebrates Mardi Gras (lucky you!!), you know that we've been celebrating, partying, eating, and parading for a few weeks.  If you aren't from around here, you need to know Mardi Gras is one of my favorite times of the year! I'll spare you a long history lesson, but basically, Mardi Gras (literally translated is Fat Tuesday) is a French holiday celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday.  Traditionally, all the food/drink/etc was consumed in a big party to rid the pantries of everything before fasting for the Lenten season leading to Easter.  Still with me??  

So how did we get to the weeks of parading we have today?  Well, first, (and haters gon' hate) thank MOBILE, ALABAMA for the first Mardi Gras in the US!  Check out this little piece from AL.com.   You'll see the first carnival celebration went down in Mobile in 1703 (full of French/Catholic settlers)... well over 150 years before New Orleans borrowed our little party :)  Mardi Gras was stopped during the Civil War and was revived by Joe Cain in the late 1860s.  Joe Cain Day is a whole other story... so we'll just stop there.  If you read the article, you know that Mobile will have hosted 38 parades this year.  Fairhope (my hometown) hosted 3... 4 if you include the puppy parade! :)  

So what does Mardi Gras look like??  Here are some pictures I took during the Mystic Striper parade in Mobile last week.

Never park on the parade route!

Striper's Emblem Float

Mascots Southern Style: Striper's Theme Float

Roll Tide!  My favorite float of the night

Roll Tide!  15...

Hawkins and I ready for the Ball

Each masked Mardi Gras society has a ball after its parade.  Attendance at the ball is by ticket/invite only (sounds fancy, huh??!  Not too hard to get tickets... just gotta know someone in the society).  Ladies must wear a floor length gown, and guys must wear white tie/tails (also known as costume de riguere).  The night is filled with way too much food, way too many cocktails, and way too much dancing!  Lots of fun is had by all!

As we wrap up Fat Tuesday, I'll share some of my day with you!
Masked Mardi Gras Tree

1 Hour Jambalaya in the Dutch Oven
Homemade King Cake... complete with baby!
In our family, we leave our Christmas tree up, take the Christmas decor down, and swap it for Mardi Gras beads, masks, and other trinkets.  This will stays up until Ash Wednesday.  Tomorrow, the tree comes down.

I fixed jambalaya for dinner!  I used a great 1 hour recipe that uses a dutch oven!  This is super authentic, super easy, and allows for as much spice as you want!  We'll save this recipe for another day!

Last but not least, one of the best parts of Mardi Gras... THE KING CAKE!  This cake is more like a bread/drier cinnamon roll.  I fill mine with a cream cheese/sugar/fruit preserve mixture... its the only way to go.  This baby is TIME CONSUMING but oh so worth it!  Once baked, a tiny plastic baby is hidden in the bottom.  Whoever finds said baby brings the king cake to the next party!  Complete with icing and topped with green, gold, and purple (Mardi Gras colors for faith, power, and justice), this cake is an amazing yearly treat!

I hope y'all had a fabulous Mardi Gras!  Until next year, laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll!)

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