The 2 Meals Anthony Bourdain Enjoyed Most On Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is a time of celebration before the season of Lent. The sights and sounds of a New Orleans Mardi Gras are familiar to many, from lavish parades and triumphant blasts of horns to thick slices of King Cake. But, depending on where you are, the feel of a Mardi Gras celebration can vary, even in different parts of Louisiana. 

Colorful costumes and patterned masks, men on horses chasing chickens, and flavorful pots of gumbo — the Courir de Mardi Gras in Southern Louisana has a much different feel than the one in New Orleans. The one thing both revelers might share — a love for food. Since many people opt to give up meat and other fatty foods during Lent, Mardi Gras is the perfect time to indulge, and it's what makes foodies some of the biggest advocates of Mardi Gras celebrations.

Anthony Bourdain might have been one of the most passionate chefs of our time and was a big lover of Southern Louisiana and its cuisine. In one of the final episodes of the late star's show "Parts Unknown," he took a trip down to Cajun country to experience Mardi Gras. His notes state that he was not a huge fan of the festivities held in the French Quarter, but he was eager to get a taste of a true Cajun Mardi Gras celebration. While there, Bourdain enjoyed many different foods, but two meals stood out above the rest. 

The traditional eats of a Louisiana Mardi Gras

While Anthony Bourdain has his favorite picks of the rich lineup of food eaten during Mardi Gras, there are plenty of other classic Louisiana-inspired recipes people choose to accompany the celebration. One of the most iconic emblems of the Mardi Gras season is the ever-so-colorful King Cake – a sweet blend of cinnamon and coffee cake topped with icing and donned in purple, yellow, and green. 

Aside from the classic sweet treat, let's talk dinner. Since the American branch of Mardi Gras began and has since been widely celebrated in New Orleans, many traditional Mardi Gras dishes are inspired by the offerings of the Southern state. Steeped in Cajun and Creole culture, some of the biggest meals of Mardi Gras are hearty pots of flavorful sausage gumbos, colorful jambalayas, and even simple pairings like red rice and beans. Another go-to choice for many revelers is the state's crispy shrimp Po' boys wrapped in a classic french-style bread. While it's hard to go wrong with any of these options, Bourdain himself enjoyed two specific meals when he paid a visit to Louisiana for Cajun Mardi Gras.

Anthony Bourdain was wowed by two Louisiana dishes

In Anthony Bourdain's opening monologue for the Season 11 episode, "Cajun Mardi Gras," of his show "Parts Unknown," he confessed to being a big fan of the animated celebrations behind Cajun Mardi Gras. He described the unique lives and traditions of the people of Southern Louisiana as "magnificently weird" and "vibrantly alive," but with his love for the music and pageantry aside, his admiration for the food took center stage. Upon his return to Louisiana for Mardi Gras, the star sampled a few dishes, but two stood out. 

A recap of the episode by Eater notes that Bourdain's lunch, which he ate alongside some local legends at Laura's II in Lafayette, stood out the most. With full plates of fried fish, smothered turkey legs, ribs, and beds of gravy-soaked rice, Bourdain admitted he was "all over [the food] like a heat-seeking missile." The turkey legs were the main event here and had been made the same way for three generations. Packed with garlic and seasonings, the recipe was tried-and-true, and Bourdain recalled his adoration for the wings in particular.

Bourdain's second taste of Cajun goodness was at a local breakfast joint in Kaplan the day after the Mardi Gras celebration. Known as Suire's Grocery, here Bourdain indulged in an oyster Po'boy and some crawfish etouffee, a flavorful, gumbo-like dish. Bourdain said of the breakfast spot that it was "one of the more awesome locations I've ever found."