Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday” as some would call it, is celebrated in New Orleans and is always the day before Ash Wednesday. In fact, it is still celebrated as a legal holiday in Louisiana. It is the most popular time to visit New Orleans. Mardi Gras has been celebrated since the 1730’s but it wasn’t until the 1830’s that the city held parades with masked riders on horseback and gaslight torches. The colors of Mardi Gras which are purple, gold, and green were first introduced in 1872 to honor the visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff’s family colors. Purple stands for justice, gold for power and green for faith. Throwing of beads on bourbon street is a tradition of the Mardi Gras festivities. The original idea was to toss the color of the beads to the person who exhibited the color’s meaning. Pretty sure that idea is long gone and anyone who is festive enough can get a string of plastic beads tossed at them.
Considering that New Orleans is one of America’s food meccas, here are some traditional foods you may want to experience if you are ever in the Big Easy.
- Alligator – You may need to be a little adventurous to try this dish. The swamps and the menus are full of alligator. Antoine’s serves this dish in a variety of ways.
- Bread pudding – If you like bread pudding, the place to go is Commander’s Palace. It is served with a side of warm whiskey cream.
- Beignets – Probably one of the most popular (and sweetest) New Orleans foods. It is fried square pieces of dough covered with powdered sugar. Café Du Monde has been serving this dish in New Orleans since 1862.
- Crawfish – If you are willing to get a little dirty, and you want to eat crawfish New Orleans style, head to Big Fisherman Seafood in the Garden District. There you will be able to get a bag of boiled crawfish.
- Gumbo – This is a typical southern Louisiana dish. The chicken Andouille gumbo is a local’s favorite and it can be found at the Gumbo Shop. It has chicken, sausage, and okra.
- Jambalaya – This is a rice dish which may include seafood, chicken, sausage, onions, tomatoes, peppers, and more. The Crescent Pie and Sausage Co. restaurant was showcased on the Food Network for their “Bad Bart’s Black Jambalaya.”
- Po’Boy – These are sandwiches found at Parkway Bakery & Tavern. Legend has it that in 1929 there was a streetcar conductor strike. Two brothers made sandwiches for these conductors asking, “What are we going to feed these poor boys?”
Going to Mardi Gras this year I will have my Penless app on my phone. I like to use the idea board of the Penless app the first day I am in a new city. I take pictures of restaurants that I would like to try during my visit. I can also make notes on the idea board of items I may like from the menu. Since I will be buying presents for my nieces and nephews, I will also take pictures and make notes of places I have seen interesting gifts. Now I don’t have to remember where I saw them. The Penless idea board takes care of that for me!