the feast before the fast

It’s Mardi Gras time!

Fat Tuesday! It’s probably the most appropriate name for a day ever. It’s the day we celebrate Mardi Gras. Anyone who’s ever been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras didn’t go to stick with the Whole 30 plan or do a no-carb weekend. Not only do people fall off their diet wagons when attending the festival, but they also may just lose their composure in an attempt to score some fake coins or plastic beads.

Beginning on Epiphany and ending the day before Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras is the big celebration leading up to the start of the Lenten Season, the time of spiritual preparation before the Easter Season. For many people, Lent includes fasting of some sort. It may be fasting from food, alcohol, sweets, or even social media.

Several traditional foods are consumed during Mardi Gras, each with its own special quality; and, of course, eating them in New Orleans means you are getting the best. One of the traditions is King Cake, a sweet dough formed into a ring and often decorated with icing and purple, green, and gold sugars. The colors stand for justice, faith, and power respectively.

Inside the King Cake is a plastic baby, representing Jesus. Whoever gets served the piece with the baby in it brings the King Cake the next year. The cake symbolizes the infant Jesus first showing himself to the three wisemen, sometimes called kings.

Other traditional fare includes Jambalaya, a dish containing rice, vegetables, andouille sausage, and other ingredients like shrimp, crawfish, or chicken. It is well-seasoned with different Cajun spices. Crawfish boils are also a part of the feasting. Crawfish are small, lobster-like crustaceans found in the waters of Louisiana. They are cooked with corn on the cob, new potatoes, and lots of spices, and then drained and poured out on a table lined with butcher paper for the group to enjoy.

Mardi Gras is a celebration so unique it should be on everyone’s bucket list. Eating, drinking, and having fun is something this event has mastered.