Today is Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras as they say en français, a centuries old tradition of feasting and revelry to commemorate the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Though the traditional, raucous pre-fast celebrations take place all over the world, the most famous is concentrated in New Orleans. In honor of the city that makes a serious thing out of fun, and fun times serious, we picked three iconic Cajun dishes (plus one dessert) for you to try tonight, even if you’re miles away from Bourbon Street.
Crawfish Etouffée, epicurious.com: The fairly new Louisianan tradition of partaking in the lobster-like crustaceans is fully on display with this popular dish. If you live away from the Gulf Coast you might have a bit of trouble acquiring crawfish, so feel free to substitute lobster, scallops or shrimp.
Jambalaya, yumsugar.com: Folks disagree on how to pronounce it (is it JAM-balaya or JUM-balaya?), but everyone agrees it’s one of best and most popular Cajun dishes around. The best part is it’s crazy simple to prepare and only takes as long as the rice and sausage have to cook.
Emeril’s Country File Gumbo, Food Network: Emeril Lagasse is one of New Orleans’ native sons so watch out when you get ready to make his wholly authentic pot of gumbo. The ingredients list alone is enough to make you go BAM! so this recipe might be best for a Saturday afternoon.
King Cake: The official food of Mardi Gras need not be missed just because you’re not in the city to enjoy it. New Orleans Online lists several bakeries that ship fresh King Cake all over the U.S.
Laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times role)!
– Whitney Teal
Photos courtesy epicurious, YumSugar, Food Network and Gambino’s Bakery