Check out this slideshow to learn the food and drink traditions associated with New Orleans and Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras Food Traditions
To many, Fat Tuesday is also known as Pancake Day. The international custom of eating pancakes on this day dates back to the Middle Ages when people used up their last eggs, butter and dairy since they wouldn't be eating those items during Lent.
For a delicious pancake recipe to celebrate Pancake Day, try Home-Style Pancakes with Blueberry Butter.
According to MardiGrasNewOrleans.com, the tradition of King Cakes runs deep. The cake celebrates three kings who brought gifts to a young Jesus Christ. Each cake features a hidden baby figurine, and the person whose slice holds the figure traditionally hosts the next party.
Initially King Cakes were no more than a simple ring of dough, today they are highly decorated and sometimes filled with different flavor fillings.
The drink of the New Orlean's Mardi Gras celebration features rum, passion fruit juice, grenadine and lime. According to Boston.com, the beverage was originated in New Orleans in the 1940s. A bar owner, Pat O'Brien, had an overabundance of rum and wanted to sell it off to sailors, which he thought he could do with a little sugar, lime and passion fruit juice.
Today you can visit Pat O'Brien's Courtyard or Pat O'Brien's Bar in the city and try one for yourself.
Image Courtesy of PatOBriens.com
This New Orleans' staple is often enjoyed during Mardi Gras as part of the local culture. The famed sandwich originated almost a century ago during a street car strike. Some former street car workers formed a sandwich shop and used cut potatoes and roast beef gravy for a sandwich. The sandwich concept still lives on in the city today.
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Beignets and Calas
Both of these doughy, fried treats are enjoyed on Mardi Gras in the spirit of feasting before Lent. Calas (rice in sweet egg batter and fried), once on every street corner, had nearly disappeared commercially after World War II, but lived on through home cooking and family traditions, according to TheProvince.com. Today, they are beginning to reemerge on restaurant menus alongside the always popular beignets.
Image Credit: Gerald Herbert/AP
Many believe this Cajun dish is a descendent of Spanish paella. It grew to be popular at public gatherings (mostly at church fairs around the turn of the century) where the people of Louisiana made it in huge pans over fires outside. It is no wonder that this festival food is still popular today during Mardi Gras.
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As people flood the streets of New Orleans for Mardi Gras to celebrate, pass around beads and enjoy the city's unmatched music scene, they also gather to eat and drink. In fact, Fat Tuesday is, at its core, a time to feast (hence, why it is called "Fat" Tuesday) before giving up indulgences during Lent.
Check out the slideshow above to learn about some unexpected and exciting food and drink traditions from New Orleans and its largest annual celebration: Mardi Gras.
Also, learn how to make king cake, a Mardi Gras favorite.