Fifty one years ago today, my parents had their first date. It's easy to remember because their first date was to Mardi Gras day parades!
Growing up in South Florida, I didn't know much about Mardi Gras. We didn't have parades or throw beads or get off of school. Being Southern Baptist, we didn't observe Lent, either.
My first year at LSU was something of an eye-opener. For one thing, we got Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras off, so we had a four day weekend. As I recall, I stayed on campus for the weekend and just went to some Baton Rouge parades. I also noticed that the next day, Ash Wednesday, that a lot of people had black smudges on their foreheads. It turns out that they had gone to Mass in the middle of the day and gotten ashes smeared on their foreheads as part of the service. I've since learned what that actually means.
For the years that I lived in New Orleans, I actually went to the Mardi Gras parades. I lived downtown during my first two years, so I saw Endymion, Perseus, Rex, Zulu, and all the other traditional downtown parades. And I had the beads to prove it!
After PWM and I got married, we went to the Metairie parades. (Metairie is a New Orleans suburb.) For our first Mardi Gras together, we planned a party for the Monday before Mardi Gras. We were going to have dinner and then go the block from our apartment to watch the Caesar parade (I'm pretty sure). Unfortunately, we weren't able to have our party because I got appendicitis on Saturday night. Being in New Orleans which has two medical schools, I got seen by medical students and residents before the surgeon finally got called from watching a parade to see me. In any case, I had surgery Sunday morning and we canceled the party.
Now that we're in the Great White North, we follow the Mardi Gras season vicariously through our friends on Facebook. One year, we were down south during the Mardi Gras season (although not on Mardi Gras weekend). While PWM and I had dinner with a friend, Grandma took the kids to a Baton Rouge Mardi Gras parade.
This year, we have Ashley with us who has never experienced anything like Mardi Gras. I found a recipe for a really quick king cake using crescent roll dough. I changed out the cream cheese filling for Nutella and decorated it like a king cake. Everyone loved it!!
I made jambalaya using a Zatarain's boxed mix. I had no idea if I would have a migraine today, so a mix ensured that we'd have dinner no matter what! The craziest thing is that I found frozen, boiled crawfish at our grocery store! I bought a bag, which was two servings. I didn't even pay attention to how much it cost, but I'm sure it wasn't cheap. I heated them up in the bag in a pot of boiling water. PWM and I were shocked! They were legit boiled crawfish! They tasted just like they would if we were at a crawfish boil in Baton Rouge! Ashley wasn't crazy about them. She said they were too salty. They do eat crawfish in China, but with different spices.
So, tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. Being non-liturgical protestants, we won't go to church or observe the day in a religious way, although I do pay some attention to the church calendar. I may write more about that in a day or two.
Have you had any fun (or not so fun) Mardi Gras experiences?