Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, is a celebration period in New Orleans. It falls on February 12 in 2013, but parties happen all week. The streets are filled with people in elaborate costumes, beads and masks. There is dancing, parades, fruity drinks and lots of yummy food.
A Mardi Gras party is fun for both kids and adults – and you don’t have to live in New Orleans to celebrate. Plus, they are cheap and easy to throw together.
Here are some menu ideas.
The food eaten in New Orleans is comforting and a little spicy. Start off with several boxes of jambalaya rice mix. Plan on one box for every four adults or six children. Add chopped vegetables, such as broccoli, onion, carrots, zucchini, green peppers and peas. Throw in chunks of cooked chicken, shrimp or smoked sausage. Serve with a big loaf of crusty French bread. Make a pot of white rice to mix in to the jambalaya for more sensitive palates.
Fruity drinks are perfect for Mardi Gras celebrations. Don’t forget slices of fresh fruit for garnish and brightly colored strays or swizzle sticks. Set out a few pictures of various juices for the kids and whip up a signature cocktail, such as the Hurricane, for the adults.
New Orleans Hurricane Cocktail (serves 8):
- 2 cups Southern Comfort
- 2 cups prepared sweet-and-sour mix
- 2 cups orange juice
- 2 cups pineapple juice
- ½ ounce grenadine
Mix all ingredients in a picture. To serve, pour over cups of ice. Garnish with orange wedges and cherries.
A King cake is a Mardi Gras tradition. The cake is decorated in the traditional colors and has a little plastic baby hidden inside. The person who gets the piece with the baby in it receives a special priviledge or duty. Decide on what this will entail beforehand. Perhaps they get out of cleanup duty or have to perform a song.
Several New Orleans bakeries ship their King Cakes to any location in the country. Prices start at around $35 for 15 – 20 servings. The cakes are fully decorated with the baby inside.
You can also make your own. Dozens of recipes are available online for traditional King cakes. If authenticity isn’t important to you, simply use your favorite white cake recipe or box mix. Dye the batter or icing with food coloring if you want. Top with a rainbow of colored sugar, sprinkles, frosting and candy. Don’t forget to put the little baby inside the cooled cake before decorating. They are sold in the baby shower section of most craft stores.
Your guests will be begging you to throw a Mardi Gras party every year. If you aren’t up for hosting it every year, give the responsibility for next year’s party to the person who finds the baby inside their piece of cake!