Who dat say New Orleans is the only place with Mardi Gras? Carnival season is an international spectacle that reaches far beyond the Mississippi. The UK turns out stacks of pancakes on Pancake Day (their Mardi Gras equivalent) that could rival a King Cake while Carnaval de Quebec pours out Caribou cocktails that make a Hurricane look weak. These fierce demonstrations of culture and culinary tradition make for some of largest festivities across the globe for tourists and locals alike.
Historically, these weeks have been a time for Christians to prepare to make personal sacrifices for Lent. Over the years, Carnival has partly outgrown its religious origins, becoming over-the-top cultural celebrations by way of parades, costumes, special food, and, of course, alcohol. After all, what better way to prepare for self-denial than with a period of communal gluttony?
Food is as integral a part of every pre-Ash Wednesday bash as sacrifice is for Lent. For celebrations that take place over the course of days, like in Trinidad and Tobago, locals eat carb-packed corn soup to help sustain themselves. After the three-day Intruz in Goa, India, parade-goers reward themselves with a buffet of richly flavored seafood and rice dishes.
Carnival is a welcome change of pace; a time when people all over the world take a break from reality to indulge in food and festivities in tandem. Jesus might not have danced in sequins, binged through the night, or flogged his parents, but that doesn’t mean you can’t!