In New Orleans, Mardi Gras isn't just a day — it's a month of celebration with masquerade balls and parades and music and merriment that culminates on "Fat Tuesday," the day before Ash Wednesday and the more somber Lenten season.
Today — Lundi Gras — it is not uncommon for locals to go out for a boozy lunch that stretches all the way until dinner. In fact, it is a fair bet to say that if you leave for lunch, your boss will not expect you to return until Wednesday (and then, slightly hungover).
If you are lucky enough to be in New Orleans, we are green (and gold and purple) with envy (and we have a few ideas for how to spend your time). If you are not in New Orleans, however, you can still participate in the revelry.
Here are five ways to make believe you're in the Big Easy — no flight required.
1. Embrace the purple, green, and gold.
Is it enough to throw on some beads? Yes, we support that. But we also support going a bit over the top with the purple, green, and gold color scheme. You could paint your face or don a purple wig (why not?). We've also got a few crafty ideas to take your celebration to the next level.
Get crafting: 5 DIY Crafts for Mardi Gras
2. Make King Cake.
It's not Mardi Gras without King Cake, a ring-shaped brioche-style confection with a plastic baby baked inside. The tradition is that the person who gets the piece with the baby brings the King Cake to the next party, basically guaranteeing that the party never ends.
Historically, the "cake" was barely sweet and unfilled, but these days you're most likely to find it filled with cinnamon or cream cheese. Our version, adapted from Judy Walker's Cooking Up a Storm, uses cinnamon and sugar, all rolled up like a big (delicious) cinnamon bun.
Get the recipe: How To Make King Cake for Mardi Gras
3. Fix a classic New Orleans cocktail.
A stiff drink is also de rigueur if you're going to fête Mardi Gras, and there's no shortage of cocktails to choose from. If rum is your poison, you can't go wrong with a classic Hurricane (or better yet, a pitcher of Hurricanes). If you want to err on the side of refreshing and not too boozy, try a Pimm's Cup or a French 75. If, on the other hand, your motto is "the stiffer the better," the Sazerac is your drink.
4. Turn up the music.
So, a brass band in your home probably isn't an option, but you can turn the radio (or your Spotify) up — we suggest Kermit Ruffins, Rebirth Brass Band, and The Soul Rebels — and make your own "Second Line" parade.
5. Put a pot of red beans on.
Red beans and rice is a Monday night tradition and Mardi Gras is on a Tuesday, but this is an iconic New Orleans dish and with all that drinking and dancing you're going to want some substance. (No, King Cake doesn't count.)
You could put a pot of beans on in the morning and let it simmer all day, but in case your day is a tiny bit more hurried, we've adapted Pableaux Johnson's traditional recipe for your electric pressure cooker.
Get the recipe: How To Make Red Beans & Rice in an Electric Pressure Cooker