When I last wrote about one of our Take a Trip activities, we had decided on Australia for our next destination. However, we decided to veer from this and take a detour into the southern U.S. for Mardi Gras. There is Carnevale here, big in Venice, but we could not go this year since I had no sitter for Addie (I refuse to take on Addie by myself in a water city until she listens better!). We also know that the Carnival season is celebrated in many places around the world. Anya asked what the difference was between Mardi Gras in the U.S. and Carnevale in Venice, and as I was helping explain, we decided to celebrate a little Mardi Gras in our own house!
Of course, I made the food. Mardi Gras is French for “fat Tuesday,” so food is a necessity. My neighbor in Washington Katie was from Louisiana and could make some mean Southern food, but I have never tried to cook it much on my own. I made gumbo, cheddar biscuits, shrimp, chicken/pineapple picks, dirty rice, beignets, and King Cake. Once again, this is a menu that the girls were not thrilled with, but they tried everything. The verdict was that the gumbo was spicy, but I thought it was good! The girls liked the biscuits and beignets, and Lorelei discovered she likes shrimp. Addie would not eat anything, as usual, but they all wore their masks, bracelets (my alternative to beads, since I could not find any here!), and even crowns.
We also decorated the house – lots of purple and yellow streamers, green balloons, and our usual informative signs. I was able to sideswipe the questions about the many beads worn at Mardi Gras by putting more attention on the parades and the King Cake competition! Whew!
On to my first attempt at King Cake – this is a traditional cake that is decorated with green, gold, and purple (the colors for Mardi Gras. Purple is for justice, gold is for power, and green is for faith). I made this from scratch, which took over 4 hours for rising, kneading, baking, and decorating. It was worth it – it was delicious, with cinnamon and pecans on the inside. We used purple icing since I could not find purple sprinkles, but the effect is still the same. Traditionally, you hide a plastic baby in the cake, to represent the baby Jesus, and whomever finds it in their piece must host the next Mardi Gras party. I did not hide one in mine, but when Anya was eating her piece, she lost a loose tooth! So ours had a surprise too.
Here are a few more pictures of our night!
It was an interesting night of masks, spicy food, and silliness – Addie wore every mask at least once tonight. Lorelei asked if we could go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans soon…maybe a trip when she’s at least 21? 🙂 I am now going to bed very full, having accomplished a successful Mardi Gras. I promise that next time we take a trip, it will be Australia, but detours are fun too!