Mardi Gras is a celebration like no other. While Mobile, Ala. may be home to the original Mardi Gras, New Orleans is home to the largest and most grand celebration, with attendees dressed up in their finest to watch their favorite krewes parade by day and attend grand costume balls at night. With parades beginning as early as 8 a.m., revelers begin celebrating early in the day, starting with brunch cocktails followed by lots of fried street-fair foods.
For those who can’t make it to New Orleans this year, host your own Mardi Gras brunch just like they do in the Big Easy. We recently sat down with Chef Chris Lusk and Bar Chef Lu Brow of Café Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar in New Orleans to talk all things Mardi Gras — but, most important, what to drink, what to eat, and how to celebrate just like they do down South. (Photo courtesy of Ideas in Food)
Mardi Gras is a time to indulge. According to Bar Chef Brow, it’s about an “excess in everything — eating, drinking, and celebrating.” She continues, “it’s a time to do what you normally don’t,” like consuming large amounts of rich and fried foods, and drinking all day long. She adds, “you will have a chance to “balance it all out” come Lent.
Most Mardi Gras parties take place at homes along the parade routes, so guests can drink, eat, and watch the parade. Typically, guests are responsible for each bringing one dish and one drink to share. Typically, foods that can be “consumed while walking, standing, or stumbling” are often served, Chef Lusk explains, as everyone's focus is on the parade, not the food. And “don’t use your real dishware,” Bar Chef Brow adds, “only disposable plastic.” Between guests leaving dishes behind, to the inevitable broken glass, you would end up with far fewer dishes in your cabinet. (Photo courtesy of Café Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar)
The ultimate parade food. Fried, manageable with one hand (because the other is holding your drink), and oh so very good.
This dish is served every Monday at Café Adelaide; it’s an age-old New Orleans tradition. When making the beans, be sure to cook them until they’re very tender, or “creamy,” just like the locals do. (Photo courtesy of Café Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar)
A classic Southern dish that is easy to make, can be eaten while standing, and tastes delicious.
As the celebrations (and the drinking) begin early in the day, Bar Chef Lu serves a lot of Champagne cocktails and other morning drinks like brandy milk punch and spiked coffees. Her Bloody Marys, however, draw a crowd. Just hearing about her special homemade Bloody Mary base, garnished with lots of pickled vegetables like beans and olives, and a special Creole rub rim, we, too, were all of a sudden craving her spicy drink. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/scaredy_kat)