Nel and I took a trip to New Orleans last year with our best friends during Mardi Gras.
I have been wanting to visit New Orleans since I was a little girl and when I finally did, I fell in love...
with the culture,
the French Quarter,
and the swamps.
We were a bit disappointed that we would be missing out on the festivities this year during Mardi Gras, so we decided to make our own celebration!
To give you a little background, Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday". As a Catholic tradition, it is a celebration of the Carnival season and the last day before Lent begins.
(This is the St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest Catholic church in the U.S.)
In New Orleans, At 12:00am on Ash Wednesday, police clear the streets of the French Quarter on horses declaring "Mardi Gras has ended. Lent has begun." It is then time to sacrifice until Easter. But in the weeks before the Lent season, New Orleanians sure do celebrate life.
People of all ages and backgrounds are literally dancing in the streets in costume.
The atmosphere is lively and welcoming.
Colorful beads are in full abundance, whether they are generously thrown from the grand floats or dangled along street car and electrical lines.
Cajun spices fill the air.
The French Quarter is decorated with green, gold, and purple, which are the colors of Mardi Gras. (Green signifies faith, gold signifies power, and purple signifies justice.) Mardi Gras is even an official state holiday in Louisiana!
For our own little celebration, Nel and I made some delicious cajun cuisine: Gumbo, Jambalaya, and a festive King Cake.
King Cake is made only during the Carnival season and is perfect for small or large parties. It is deliciously moist and sprinkled with the colors of Mardi Gras.
The cake was created in honor of the three wise men who came to visit Jesus when he was born. The tradition involves hiding a plastic "Baby Jesus" somewhere in the cake and whoever receives the piece with the Baby, is in charge of making the next cake or hosting the next King Cake Party.
If you are interested in making it, please follow this link. We used this recipe, and ours turned out très bon (very good)!
Traditional New Orleans King Cake Recipe
For our gumbo, we used a recipe from Paula Deen, and it was AMAZING! We just threw all the ingredients into a crock pot. Here is the link in case you would like to try it:
Paula Deen's Gumbo
Our trip to New Orleans not only reminded us to Celebrate Life, but it also gave us new creative ideas and traditions to adopt.
Happy Mardi Gras!