Mardi Gras

Here are all Mardi Gras-related entries

Days Until. . .

Six Days Until Mardi Gras The parades have emphatically taken over the streets of New Orleans, and with them comes the street food. Here is my annual appeal that we have more New Orleans food out there, and less of the kind of stuff you'd see at the state livestock fair in Nebraska. More andouille, crawfish bread, boudin, and fried shrimp. Fewer funnel cakes, Polish sausage sandwiches, and cotton candy. All the restaurants with stands and packages for dining and parade watching are running those programs at full tilt. They get a little more expensive every night, as the parades get better and more densely attended.

Five Days Until Mardi Gras Tonight will always be Momus Night to me. This is the day in the Carnival schedule on which that old, irreverent krewe staged its satirical parades on their old wooden-wheel floats. They were notoriously stingy in their throws (although Comus had them beat in that department). I don't think either my parents or I ever planned on going to Momus, but we always seemed to be there that night. They're still around holding their private celebrations, but were pushed out of parading by political issues. I raise a toast to Momus tonight, from out here in the Caribbean Sea, somewhere between Guatemala and Belize.

We have entered the last five days of the Carnival season, during which the madness, debauchery, fun, overindulgence, spectacle, and abandon reach their peaks. At the major restaurants in the French Quarter, people who have lavish lunches together every Friday before Mardi Gras will do so in such numbers that you shouldn't even think of going to one of them without heavy prior arrangements. The tables at lunch today at Galatoire's, for example, were auctioned off for just short of $100,000 (the money went to charity). Antoine's expects to serve arund 1300 people today, and Arnaud's will be a packed house too. After those meals are served, a curious thing happens: the better restaurants in the French Quarter and elsewhere start closing, not to reopen until Ash Wednesday or even Thursday. The worst day of all is Mardi Gras itself, when it's hard to find a place to eat until the evening--and it's not easy even then. This has always puzzeld us. The Carnival season is supposed to be about indulging the senses one last time before the privations of Lent. But, really, it's the worst time to attempt eating well in New Orleans. Hot dogs, cotton candy, king cake, and boxes of cold fried chicken take over. There's something wrong with this, we've always thought.

Four Days Until Mardi Gras Today at Galatoire's, the contrast between formality and tomfoolery reaches its annual high for the New Orleans restaurant community. At eleven-thirty, the doors open to admit only those who were the high bidders at a charity auction a few weeks ago. They will jam the place instantly, and set about consuming unusual (even for Galatoire's) quantities of cocktails and wine. The noise level will rise to ear-splitting, the waiters will weave through the tables doing their best to deliver the soufflee potatoes, fried eggplant, and Galatoire goutes. A large number of people will be in semi or full costume. It will be dusk by the last member of this this jolly society heads for home. The restaurant will regroup and keep going until normal closing time, when it will retire from the scene until Ash Wednesday.