Mardi Gras Food Traditions

Mardi Gras is Upon Us…

And so is our 10 lb. weight gain!

Mardi Gras is a time for celebration and every celebration calls for lots and lots of eats. New Orleans is a yearlong smorgasbord but there’s something about the Carnival Season that makes traditional New Orleans food even more special.

1. King Cake

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King cakes are one of the earliest New Orleans Mardi Gras’ food traditions, dating back to 1870 when settlers brought this scrumptious dessert to the Big Easy all the way from France. The original New Orleans King Cake is a ring shaped, cinnamon-dough creation usually iced with Mardi Gras’ green, yellow, and purple colors. Of course, now king cakes can come in a variety of sizes, colors, and flavors and are filled with everything from praline to crème cheese to the Krewe of Zulu’s moniker king cake: toasted coconut and chocolate morsels. If you have not had at least one king cake before Fat Tuesday, you have not experienced Mardi Gras to her fullest.

 

2. Crawfish (Boil)

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There must be something unsightly about crawfish. Most tourists have difficulty accepting that Cajuns eat a crustacean that is also nicknamed the “mudbug.” It isn’t until the first crawfish boil of the season that visitors can truly grasp the importance of the crawfish boil. Crawfish boils, especially during Mardi Gras, aren’t just a place to chow down on delicious critters, boiled corn, and potatoes. Crawfish boils are about community. There’s nothing like making conversation with the person next to you, who is also “pinching the tail and sucking the head.” Remember, if you’re eating off a plate, you’re doing it wrong.

 

3. Jambalaya

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When Spanish settlers arrived in New Orleans, they began altering their traditional paella rice dish to incorporate locally grown ingredients. This concoction later became its own tradition known as Jambalaya, now a popular New Orleans staple and what thousands of New Orleanians consider their favorite comfort food. What goes in your jambalaya is your decision. Most commonly, jambalaya contains sausage (likely Andouille), seafood, and beaucoup Cajun spices. If you have creole tastebuds, add more Tabasco. If not, be careful!

 

4. Hurricane

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You don’t have to brave the French Quarter during prime parade hours for one of these beverages, but if you find yourself covered in beads on St. Peter Street, Pat O’Brien’s hurricane is a must. After all, the cocktail originated at this famous bar back in the ‘40s and has become one of the most popular drinks in New Orleans since. If you don’t make it to Pat O’s, you can still find hurricanes at almost any New Orleans bar or you can make it at home with rum, lemon juice, and passion fruit syrup. It may sound like a standard mixed drink but remember it isn’t named after a natural disaster for nothing!

5. Po’ Boy

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Skip the thin cheese pizza slices offered on the parade route and hop into the first New Orleans restaurant you see to get an equally portable food: the Po’ Boy. A loaf of French bread overflowing with your desired seafood, meat, or even french fries and topped with the works (lettuce, pickle, tomato, and mayonnaise) sounds like the superior option anyway and you’ll be celebrating a New Orleans’ tradition that originated back in the ‘30