Celebrate Mardi Gras like a Cajun

New Orleans Mardi Gras: Street costumers in th...

celebrate Mardi Gras with delicious Cajun recipes (image via Wikipedia)

As the onset of Mardi Gras mayhem gets closer, people from every state will be looking to New Orleans with a little longing and a bit of envy.  Who wouldn’t want to line the streets to watch the parades, dress up for the many parties, and partake in the fabulous food found only in Cajun Country?  If you didn’t make hotel reservations before December  or don’t have the extra money in the budget to go to Mardi Gras this year, why not bring Mardi Gras to you!  You might not be able to wrestle up a proper Mardi Gras parade, but with fresh Arizona food and the right recipes, you can fill your plate with a variety of Mardi Gras munchies worthy of their own celebration.

To make your Mardi Gras celebration memorable, make sure you include these Mardi Gras favorites on your menu.

  • Cajun Jambalaya uses the ingredients found in the low-lying swamp regions of Louisiana and often includes crawfish, shrimp, duck, turtle, alligator, venison, chicken, or turkey.  This type is also called brown Jambalaya and has a spicier, smokier flavor than some other versions of the dish.
  • There are almost as many different ways to make Gumbo as there are items thrown during a Mardi Gras parade.  The most popular kinds made today are Seafood Gumbo and Chicken and Sausage Gumbo which feature meat, rice, vegetables, and are thickened with okra or roux.
  • It just wouldn’t be Mardi Gras without a King Cake to help everyone celebrate.  This special cake was traditionally part of the Epiphany and represents the three wise men that brought gifts to the Christ child on Twelfth Night.  King cakes are still part of Epiphany celebrations today but are also very popular during Mardi Gras.  The cake is made from cinnamon spiced dough that is baked into a ring with a surprise hidden inside the dough.  The surprise is a trinket, most often a plastic baby, and the person who gets the piece of cake containing the baby has to host the next party or provide the next king cake.  Don’t forget to top your cake with sugary glaze in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.
  • Beignets make a great breakfast, snack, or dessert for your Mardi Gras celebration.  These deep-fried pastries, similar to donuts, are popular throughout the French Quarter.  Sprinkle yours with lots of powdered sugar and pair them with a cup of chicory coffee served au lait, just like you would get at Café du Monde.
  • The Hurricane, the only kind people from New Orleans like to experience, is a drink created at the famous Pat O’Brien’s pub in the French Quarter.  The drink didn’t get its name because of the powerful punch it delivers, but rather from the type of glass it comes in which looks like an old fashioned hurricane lamp.  Make sure to garnish it with orange slices and cherries and serve it in a tall glass.

Our own Arizona-originated recipe have plenty of spice even if not Cajun style. In the tradition of Sonoran Mexican food, you can check out Fill Your Plate’s recipes for some special Arizona spice!

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