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The Hungry Nomad: Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...in New Orleans

February 17, 2012

Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...in New Orleans

Nope! Its not Christmas....Its almost time for Mardi Gras!!!

I will take a wild guess here and say that many of those reading this blog have  never experienced carnival season or 'mardi gras'. Others don't even know what it is. I had read about Mardi Gras in my high school french class and always wanted to come to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Who knew that destiny would make New Orleans my home allowing me to experience this wonderful time of year first hand.

For many here, Mardi Gras season seems to be more important than any other holiday. That is because Mardi Gras brings with it weeks of music, parades, floats, parties, balls and playing dress up. (Any excuse will get your average N'awliner playing dress up). Many are part of 'societies' or 'krewes', have balls to prepare for, and most importantly ride in a 'float'. Now not anyone can ride in a float...you have to earn your place in a krewe. The whole process and tradition is still a little cloudy to me but all in all in simple language modern day mardi gras season is an excuse to party day and night for one whole month (it seems like a month at least) leading up to fat tuesday and lent. Basically the average Christian is getting it all out of their system before lent.  There are different parades everyday. And you have to attend all of them. Since each has its own creative theme and floats. Riding the floats are many in really beautiful outfits (other times not so much) throwing colorful beads and other goodies at those who yell loud enough and manage to make eye contact. I happen to have mastered the 'googly eye' and so was happy to have my neck full of beads by the end of each night (that and having a really tall fiance that can reach over everyone else).  Everywhere you look you will see flashes of purple, green and gold. Purple being my favorite color you can imagine how happy this color scheme makes me.

The city pretty much shuts down for the duration of the mardi gras season. There are people running around the streets day and night in crazy costumes. And generally everyone is just happy. As happy as I have seen such a large group of people.  I'll be writing more about my mardi gras experience along with adding a bit of a historical context and explaining the traditions. I am also on a mission to eat my way through all the king cakes in town to find the best one. What is a king cake?  A delicious treat to be found in most bakeries around this time of year. I've had many kingcakes in Europe although New Orleanians have  added their own flare to it (as they do to all things) and splash it with purple, green and gold colored sugar and fill it up with delicious fillings including cream cheese, pralines, etc. Any suggestions as to the best King Cake in town? Do share your thoughts. (Also note: I collected the photos below from the wonderful world wide web. I will be adding my own collection shortly). 

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