If you don't know, Fat Tuesday is this week. You know, on TUESDAY. My tip-off for the holiday comes because my sister-in-law lives near New Orleans, and she sends a giant box of beads to us every year -- from the family-friendly Mardi Gras parades she attends. Yes, there are clean Mardi Gras parades!
Fat Tuesday caps off Mardi Gras (also called Carnival, Fastnacht, Fettisdagen and other names, in other countries), and like most holidays, is religious in origin. It is the last day to enjoy rich food, celebrate and generally participate in revelry before the next day (Ash Wednesday), which begins the Lenten season. You can read more about it on the Wiki Fat Tuesday page, but I'm concentrating on family fun here. For those of us who don't live in Louisiana, Mardi Gras is mostly a home-spun celebration.
Beignets for Breakfast
Conjure up the powdered-sugar wonder of Cafe du Monde by making your own beignets, fluffy crullers with powdered sugar. Heed the advice (and recipe) of Leite's Culinaria and don't wear black while eating these goodies. For added authenticity, drink a cup of steaming chicory coffee with your beignets.
Gather together beads (or necklaces or ribbons) and make some masks. Grab all the kids' instruments (or whatever will pass for a drum or rattle at your house) and have a parade. Skip to My Lou has a simple, printable mask template.
Dinner, Drinks & King Cake
Jambalaya - from New Orleans Cuisine
King Cake - from Andrea Meyers
Tradition stipulates that a plastic baby or fava bean be hidden inside the King Cake. The person who gets the trinket hosts the next King Cake party!
Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Let the good times roll!