(I have borrowed vigorously from Wikipedia, because I'm on a time table today)
Here we are, Fat Tuesday, 2008, better known to the world outside the Gulf coast area as Mardi Gras. It's also known as "Shrove Tuesday" or "Pancake Day".It really begins 12 days after Christmas, or Twelfth Night, on January 6 and ends on Mardi Gras, which always falls exactly 47 days before Easter. Perhaps the cities most famous for their Mardi Gras celebrations include New Orleans, Louisiana; Venice, Italy; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Many other places have important Mardi Gras celebrations as well. Carnival is an important celebration in most of Europe, except in the United Kingdom where pancakes are the tradition, and also in many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. While celebrated by various and sundry folk, it mostly ( and for my purposes here) is a French Catholic celebration, a way to have one last hurrah before we begin the serious reflection and work ahead of us for Lent.
Now, I say "work" with the upmost respect, and love. I love Lent, I think its one of the greatest celebrations of our Catholocity, and I am looking forward to it with great anticipation this year. No run-of-the-mill promises this year, I am truly going to make a worthy offering and sacrifice.
But I digress; the purpose of this is to wish everyone a Happy Mardi Gras day, and to help you celebrate, I thought I'd pass on a few links of interest. Since some of us cant be down in the midst of the party, I thought I'd throw a few proverbial beads your way;
First off, you've got to have the right music!! For our intent and purposes, I strongly suggest that you tune into: WWOZ -- New Orleans' Jazz and Heritage Station. Not only is it a great radio station24/7, they are probably the best source for authentic Mardi Gras music on the internet you will find for free. They actually stayed on the air after Katrina, broadcasting from the 2nd story of a coffee shop until their actual house was repaired.
There is also KBON 101.1 FM Radio :: Louisiana Proud, but I think you have to pay for them now. Want to see whats going on down on Canal street?? Well, then you need to go to the Times Picayune website, NOLA.COM . They have a plethorah of webcams set up so you can watch the festivities from the comfort of your own house! How cool is that? No walking around for blocks trying to find a public bathroom! If I may offer up a tip; if you happen to be awake around midnight (1:00 AM EST), check out the Bourbon cam and see how truly serious the people of new Orleans take Ash Wednesday. At the stroke of midnight, all the bars shut down, the police chase everyone off the streets, and the Prisoners from the jail help clear the streets of all traces of Mardi Gras. Its truly amazing! If you have young-uns, dont worry about questionable material showing up. this is strictly G-rated material, as is most of Mardi Gras. Oh yeah, insofar as the whole girls going topless thing is concerned? Well, the only yay-hoos who bare themselves are tourists. In Baton Rouge, the parades are mostly family oriented. I took my oldest to the Krewe of Jupiter parade in 2005, and he had a blast!! He got soooo many beads, he couldnt stand up straight!! I dont think there was anything but families where we were standing.
Y'all hungry??? Well, what would Mardi Gras be without King Cake?? I suggest Randazzo's Camellia City Bakery. they've got the best King Cake, and they will Fed-ex it to you lickety split!
Of course, if you want to make it yourself, heres a great King Cake recipe from my buddy Chuck's website. He also has the absolute best recipe for Cafe Au Lait, just like they serve at Cafe Du Monde in the French Market. If you ever are in New Orleans, you have to, HAVE TO go to Cafe Du Monde and have some of their Cafe Au lait and Beignets. It will probably be the most memorable "coffee and donuts" experience of your life. you will fall in Love with New Orleans after that!
Want something more substantial? then might I suggest Tony's Live Seafood & Deli of Baton Rouge? Ive eaten their wares before, and you'll find none finer in the U.S. Might I suggest the Seafood Tray? Try it, you wont be sorry!!
Finally, If you're gonna do Mardi Gras right, you absolutely have to learn this key phrase! This is the way to get float riders to toss you their wares, and nothing in Mardi Gras is more important than the beads man!! they come in all shapes and sizes; from the run of the mill small strands, to the huge. in 2005 we had someone throw some to us that actually left a welt on my forehead for a few hours! So you have to be on your toes and watch for incoming!! If you want to impress your friends with a really great Mardi Gras party, face it, you're gonna need beads. My last suggestionfor your Fat Tuesday festivities would be the folks at Mardi Gras Outlet. They've got all the beads, hats, costumes, p;arty favors and music you will need.
Well, I have alot to do today, and so I will leave you for now. I hope you all have a great Mardi Gras, and as always, pray for the people of the Gulf Coast, because even though Katrina was 3 years ago, they still need massive help in the smaller towns.Pax et Bonum, Vivat Jesus!!