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Embracing The Madness Of Mardi Gras!

by Gretchen Inman

 

 

This month you can forget the lull of winter days, the behavioral anomalies of a full moon, and ready yourself for the month of Mardi Gras madness – and I mean it in the best of tenses. Americans can be some of the most fun loving, child at heart partiers on the planet! St. Louis is no exception. Any reason to celebrate something is good enough for the people of the ‘Lou. Prior to the devastation of hurricane Katrina the best place for a Mardi Gras party was none other than NOLA. However, in recent years the quaint French river city of Saint Louis has become one of the top places to see and be seen during Mardi Gras. It has extended past the actual Fat Tuesday and become one of the most premier events in the Midwest!

 

Want to share the festivities of Mardi Gras without exposing yourself or your children to the excessive behavior that can and does happen? Have your own community, neighborhood or family bash!

 

The idea of Mardi Gras is to me, similar to Halloween, a right of passage to celebrate life to frivolous excess prior to lent (or as in the case of Halloween- all Saints day). Being that so many people have different views regarding their beliefs, Mardi Gras can be a celebration of liberation. Liberation from winter, liberation from school, liberation from work whatever a soul needs liberating from, we all need it!

The party is just the beginning; donning the feathered masks or other debaucherous disguises, the colored beads, the parade, the people – all for the fun of it. The food is the pivotal element that distinguishes Mardi Gras from any other celebratory event.

 

Several menus that are fun to create and introduce yourselves to are simple to make with accessible ingredients. February is calling me to cook up some Mardi Gras Menus of Cajun & Creole foods*.

1: Crab cakes, stuffed mushrooms and greens, Shrimp and Grits, Grilled Sausage with red beans and rice, beignets.

2: Muffaletta and crostini, Gumbo, Seafood Jambalaya or Chicken with dirty rice, sweet potato fritters.

3: Oysters Rockafeller, Creole Peanut Soup, Crawfish Etoufee or Cajun Fried chicken, King Cake

4: Fried Okra Salad, Red Beans and Rice, Blackened Catfish or Gator Ribs (but really use pork), bananas Foster.

All of these recipes can be found on the internet and are very versatile if you are lacking this ingredient or that. Introducing some of these fun foods to your friends and family are equally good reasons to celebrate without the stress of formality or holiday dogma. They are foods of filling, comfort and fun!

Kids of any age love mask making parties as well as production of the King cake (hiding the baby in the braids of the cake) it can become a fun tradition during the winter months that can be very confining depending on the weather. The bright colors and festivity can cure the bluest of cabin fevers.

 

And in the words of the French “Laissez les bons temps rouler”  (let the good times roll) & “Tous les jours c’est pas le meme” (every day is not the same).

*My favorite being crab cakes, shrimp & grits, peanut soup and beignets.

Gretchen Inman is a regular culinary writer for The Healthy Planet magazine.

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