17 February 2012

Top Five Friday: Throw Me Some Beads! The Mardi Gras Edition

Creole is New Orleans city food.
Communities were created by the people who wanted to stay
and not go back to Spain or France.
~ Paul Prudhomme

It’s almost Lent.   And that means Mardi Gras, the feast where Catholics traditionally used up all the animal-related products before the 40 days of fasting began on Ash Wednesday.  Eastern Catholics still follow a strict, “black fast” – no eggs, meat, or dairy.  Western, or Roman Catholics are little less, well, we're just wimpier ~ and with good reason. I had one professor in college who was Eastern Catholic and he was always grumpier during Lent then the professors who were Roman.  Just sayin’.

A die-hard Virginian I may be, but I love my Deep South sisters and Nawlins food ranks up there as the best a Southern foodie can get.  Chicken, crawfish, shrimp, and lots of butter.  And always that question: isn’t gumbo the same thing as jambalaya?

My favorite way to eat oysters is baked in their shells with garlic and parmesan on top.  But with a dairy intolerance, that is right out.  Happily, frying is not.  [Although I admit I don’t do as much of that lately.  Having gallstones really helped me get in the habit of healthier eating!]  This is a great recipe, although I didn’t use saltines, I used gluten-free breadcrumbs.  And it actually came out beautifully.

No, this is not the same as Gumbo, y’all.  Jambalya has rice, lots of it.  Think of it as the Creole version of paella.  Gumbo thickens with a flour-based roux.  For this recipe,  I used long grain brown rice in place of white because 1) I’m all into that health stuff; and 2) I’m not from Nawlin’s so no French Quarter grandmother is turnin’ ovah in her grave as I gleefully put my own Virginia stamp on things.
It’s great to be Catholic and Southern.  You get to drink things like a gin fizz. Also bourbon.  But I wanted to highlight this Nawlin’s classic.  Enjoy after a day sweating in the kitchen over a hot stove ~ preferably not into the gumbo!

            Ok, fine.  Another great one is the Sazerac.  Awesome.

Confession: I’ve never made these.  However, I’m dying to try them this weekend for my friend’s Mardi Gras bash.  So if I get around to making them, I’ll let you know how they turn out.  I have eaten them before, if that counts.  And they are waaaaaay better than doughnuts, y’all!

Ok, I’ve never made this one either.  This one is on the list this weekend as well because all the ones I have ever had at Mardi Gras parties were made my non-Nawlins people and they were dry and well, yucky.  Hopefully none of them is reading this now.  Might as well try my non-Creole hand at this favorite too!  I even have last year’s baby ~ which technically means I should have hosted this year.  Maybe I'll get it again this year!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Any favorite foodie traditions for Mardi Gras?  How do other non-Nawlins foodies celebrate?

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