HAPPY MARDI GRAS!!!!!

Mardi_gras
It’s true, ladies and gentlemen. Instead of spending time with beautiful friends, running with the Courir du Mardi Gras, donning funky yet traditional costumes, drinking ridiculous amounts of beer, and chasing chickens in apparently ‘exorbitantly warm’ weather, today I am absorbed in my own little world chez moi. That’s right. This morning, I’m sporting my nerdies, enjoying a cup of coffee, listening to a little Django Reinhardt, and putting all that info swimming around in my brain on paper; in other words, getting organized. Finally, one whole day! Let’s hope laundry and mahjong (oooh, mahjong) don’t take over.
But don’t you dare think that I’ve shunned all Mardi Gras festivities for work. All work & no play… I’ve been to three parades, caught a ton of beads, yelled during a Superbowl party, danced with a tile man of the celebrities, seen great bands, hung out with Mom and friends, spoken loads of French, and have eaten tons ‘o food & drank tons ‘o beer. Now it’s time to buckle down. Mardi Gras this year feels sort of like a second chance at the New Year. I’m grabbin’ it while it lasts.
So, I didn’t have any Louisiana King Cake this year. Is that not insane?! I even had it last year while in New York. What gives? Well, last night, to end a beautiful dinner, some new (and old) friends and I shared King Cake, though the traditional French kind with almond paste (Galette des Rois). Yum. That was after, however, enjoying lovely wines, gar fish, shrimp, salad, and exquisite company… all in French. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had gar before yesterday, and was a little curious about its background. Ranging in size from 10 to 80 lbs, it is available all year round, and is found in coastal as well as central and north Louisiana. Here’s the best info I’ve found so far:

“Heaviest production occurs in the brackish-water bays of coastal Louisiana, but most garfish are marketed through central and north Louisiana, where they are in heavy demand. Louisiana commercial landings average approximately 500,000 pounds per year. Most gar are produced with jug lines, each of which is simply a single baited hook suspended from a large float. Use of jug lines is limited to warmer months when gar feed more heavily. Garfish flesh, especially from large fish, has tough membranes between the meat segments. Flaked garfish meat is used in patties, "gar balls" and boulettes. Garfish flesh is also marketed in smoked form. Three other species of garfish turn up infrequently in the Louisiana garfish catch. The longnose gar, Lepisosteus osseus, reaches a substantial size but the flesh has an unusual bluish color. It may actually turn nearly black after freezing. Eaten fresh though, it has an excellent taste. The shortnose gar, Lepisosteus platostomus, and the spotted gar, Lepisosteus oculatus have an excellent taste, but are seldom marketed because of their small size. The heavy bony scales of the alligator gar are developing some demand for jewelry.”

Very interesting, indeed, and quite delicious broiled, especially in our hosts’ spectacular antique Chambers stove/oven. Still drooling.

Check out this article in The Boston Globe from 2003. Ok, writers, get with the times. I double dog dare ya to come down here and discover all the spectacular things going on in this state, especially in Acadiana.

So, it’s not only Mardi Gras today, but Shrove Tuesday as well. Same thing? Yes. And while we don’t usually eat crêpes in Louisiana for Mardi Gras, instead preferring to string out that Epiphany King Cake tradition, crêpes are still traditionally eaten in France (pancakes in England, Australia, etc.). So what’s up with the pancakes?! After Mardi Gras Day it’s fasting time, folks. So pancakes seemed the best solution of ridding one’s fridge and pantry of rich and delicious eggs, milk and sugar. For more info check out Wikipedia’s explanation.

Recipes:
Shrove Tuesday Pancakes (Epicurious)
How to Make Crêpes (cute YouTube video)
Mixed Berry & Cream Cheese King Cake (What We’re Eating)
Galette des Rois (in French – C’est moi qui l’ai fait!)

Well, I’m off to work on other fun and exciting projects. Have a spectacular Mardi Gras day, don’t forget to get those ashes tomorrow, and think about doing something good for the environment for Lent. Bon appétit!

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