Talk about your Fat Tuesday!
We've sunk our teeth pretty deeply into Mardi Gras already, but New Orleans isn't the only float in the food parade.
Across the U.K., royals and hoi polloi alike flip pancakes in celebration of Shrove Tuesday. The Pennsylvania Dutch fry up fastnachts (a raised doughnut). Folks of Polish descent (and apparently, residents of Michigan) polish off plenty of pączki (extra-rich jelly or cream-filled doughnuts) with great, greasy abandon.
In honor of Mardi Gras, the Southern Foodways Alliance celebrates the unique food of New Orleans. Today's story comes courtesy of Sara Roahen, author of "Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table." It should also be noted that many sno-ball stands are closed at this time of year, but that's not stopping anyone from dreaming about them.
First things first: a New Orleans sno-ball is not a snow cone - a pre-frozen, rock-hard concoction like those sold from ice cream trucks and concession stands elsewhere. As each of our New Orleans Sno-Balls oral history subjects attest, New Orleans sno is a product of locally made, carefully stored, and expertly shaved-to-order ice.
The sugary syrups that color and flavor a New Orleans sno-ball are equally important to the final product, and each sno-ball maker protects his own syrup recipes. In fact, a majority of the recipes at Hansen’s Sno-Bliz in Uptown, Williams Plum Street Snowballs near Riverbend, and Sal’s Sno-Balls in Old Metairie have survived several generations of ownership.
Carnival season ends Tuesday with Mardi Gras, and for the past eight days, partygoers have taken over the French Quarter in New Orleans, reveling in beads, booze and well, that other five-letter b-word.
For those of us looking for a way to celebrate Fat Tuesday from the comfort of our homes or the lameness of our offices, have no fear. There is a cure to the “I’m-Not-in-New-Orleans” blues and it’s called the King Cake.
The popular pastry is rich to the taste buds but it’s also rich in history, explains Arthur Hardy, the self-proclaimed "World’s Foremost Authority on Mardi Gras."
Hardy says the exact history is not certain, but like many things in New Orleans, the King Cake is believed to have originated in France as part of the Feast of the Epiphany, a celebration for the three wise men who visited Christ twelve days after Christmas.
Laissez les bons temps rouler! It's Mardi Gras time in New Orleans, and to us that means an excuse to down as many muffulettas, oysters, bowls of etouffee and gumbo, and glasses of brandy milk punch as we can fit in our mouths.
It's also a time for New Orleans' residents (and many fans) to celebrate the resilient spirit of a city that refused to give up, despite a series of tragedies that threatened to destroy their way of life forever.
Fill up a Hurricane glass, grab a beignet and get a taste of life in America's most delicious city.
What NOT to Do During Mardi Gras - Lu Brow advises not to bargain for beads and shares the importance of a Popeye's run with strangers
Five Cocktails I Enjoy Creating and CONSUMING During Mardi Gras - but Lu certainly knows how to cut loose, too
What we ate in New Orleans - and you should, too.
iReport: The best bites in New Orleans - We asked, and you shared your must-try foods all over town.
The food that got them through - New Orleanians love to talk...and argue...and educate...and opine about food. It's who they are, and what has kept them going, even when their very way of life was in danger of being swept away forever.
Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.
If you fall somewhere in the middle - if you want to drink some Hurricanes or Abitas, and wear some beads but keep your shirt on - and can’t make it to New Orleans for the parades, here are a few places around the country that might almost make you feel that you’re there. And hopefully not worry about finding a clean bathroom.
Editor's note: CNN Travel will focus on facets of a different American city each month in their Destination USA series. Next month they're looking at Miami, Florida.
Fat Tuesday is rolling up fast, so we asked for your recommendations for New Orleans' very best dishes.
"Excess is the new moderation," one iReporter proclaimed. Debatable, but not a bad mantra for a trip to diner's paradise. If you're not hungry now, you will be.
Talk about your Fat Tuesday!
We've sunk our teeth pretty deeply into Mardi Gras already today, but New Orleans isn't the only float in the food parade.
Across the UK, royals (and royals-to be, like Kate Middleton, pictured above) and hoi polloi alike flip pancakes in celebration of Shrove Tuesday. The Pennsylvania Dutch fry up fastnachts and folks of Polish descent (and/or, apparently, residents of Michigan) polish off plenty of paczki - a jelly-filled doughnut - with great, greasy abandon.
We spend all our days just dreaming of fresh, hot beignets. Well, those and muffulettas, brandy milk punch, fried oyster po' boys, butter-drenched shrimp etouffee, glorious gumbo, Gulf oysters and the sort of red beans and rice that could turn a bunch of strangers into life-long friends.
It's been two weeks since Eatocracy left New Orleans. We came to throw a Secret Supper, and it seems we left a big chunk of our soul there. Watch after it 'til we get back there, okay?
In the meantime, take a stroll through the fare we shared in the gallery above (yup - we ate all of that) and our features below - and please catch us a throw if some pretty beads float by. We promise we'll return the favor.
Talking with our mouths full
Mardi Gras: Milk that packs a brandy punch - a recipe from New Orleans bar chef Lu Brow
Beyond Bourbon Street - the real fun is on Frenchman St.
5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
We're having a two-night stand with Lu Brow.
Get ready to laissez les bons temps rouler - just don't let them rouler you right into the NOPD's possession.
What NOT to Do During Mardi Gras: Lu Brow