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How to Have a Mardi Gras PartyThe main ingredients for a Mardi Gras party are good friends, good music, good fun. Throw in Mardi Gras beads, doubloons, Mardi Gras masks and decorations, a king cake, fried chicken and jambalaya and you're all set to have the best party anyone will ever attend.
Mardi Gras Parties: Mardi Gras parties in New Orleans are filled with food, music and people. We are all waiting for the parade to pass so we can run outside and down the street to catch handfuls of beads and doubloons. We carry our own tote bags because we expect to catch too much to wear and we want to bring the extra loot home. We do, however, share beads with small children along the parade route, elderly people, and nuns. I have always wondered if all those nuns out there are just regular folks in costume just to ensure the best catch ever!
A Mardi Gras party is a great party to have even if it's not Mardi Gras time or even if you're not in New Orleans. It's fun! It's the perfect birthday party, the perfect New Year's Eve party. A great way to get everybody to show up and have a wonderful time.
What to Wear: Feather masks or fun masks make a great start to your Mardi Gras party; add a Mardi Gras t-shirt or decorated shirt, a feather boa, a few beads around your neck and you are ready.
Decorations: Purple, green and gold are the colors to use for Mardi Gras decorations. Mardi Gras floats, little Mardi Gras jesters, feather masks, mardi gras posters, purple, green and gold tinsel and you are ready for the party. Mardi Gras plates, cups, and napkins will complete your theme.
King Cake Parties: King Cake Parties begin in New Orleans when the Mardi Gras season begins - January 6th of each year and continue through Mardi Gras Day, the day before Lent begins. Feasting before fasting. Our king cakes are oval, sugared pastries, usually similar to a cinnamon roll in taste, although now they come will all sorts of fillings and flavors, topped with purple, green and yellow frosting or colored sugar. Tucked under the king cake is a small plastic "king cake baby", the prize in one of the slices. The person who gets the "baby" is the king or queen of the party, and in New Orleans, they must have the next party or bring the next king cake to work or wherever.
King Cake parties are great for adults and for children. If you want to make your own pastry or king cake, don't bake anything under the cake. When it's done and cool, you can slip a little king cake baby or a large dried bean, etc. into the underside of the pastry. Whoever gets the piece that has the bean or trinket on the bottom is the king or queen.
Beads: Plastic necklaces are thrown from all of the Mardi Gras parade floats. They can be very small (33") - more experienced parade goers won't try to catch the little stuff, they are keeping their eyes peeled for the bigger prizes - big beads (usually 42" or 48"), doubloons (every New Orleanian's must-have at a parade, some of us will even trade a big bead for a doubloon), and the biggest prize of all is from someone we know on one of the floats. We'll risk injury and arrest to get to Joe, who will then give us some of his good stuff, the big, big beads, a handful of doubloons, Mardi Gras cups, it's hitting the jackpot during Mardi Gras.
Doubloons: Metal coins in a variety of colors depending upon which Krewe (members of a particular Mardi Gras club and riding in his/her specific parade). Doubloons can be purple, green, gold, blue, black. Each one has the name of the krewe and the year. Lots of us have a goal of getting one from each parade for each year. The ultimate would be having a full collection of Rex or Comus or Bacchus or Endymion doubloons. Rex threw their first doubloon in 1960 - the king throwing trinkets of gold to his subjects.
Music: If the Nevelle Brothers are singing then it's Mardi Gras time; if the Meters are singing then it's Mardi Gras time. In New Orleans Mardi Gras music fills the streets and you can't miss the beat. It means it's time to dance in the street, to second line to the music. You can use a brightly decorated Second Line umbrella to second line, but all you really need is a handkerchief, a napkin, anything handy. And then you're off.
Food For A Mardi Gras Party:
Fried Chicken - that's easy. Fry it or buy it!
Jambalaya - rice, seasonings, chicken, sausage, shrimp if you want them or can easily get them. I find the best boxed Jambalaya to be Zatarain's and Tony Chacherie's.
Red Bean and Rice - this is a must at any of our New Orleans Mardi Gras parties; I don't think I've gone to any that didn't have a pot of beans cooking - they feed a big crowd, and the one thing you can count on if you live close to a parade route is a big crowd. The only red beans we cook are Camellia Red Beans. If they're not Camellia they don't taste like New Orleans red beans, don't ask me why because I have no idea. And we always cook our red beans with lots of seasoning (onions, celery, garlic); the onions and celery have to be sautéed first in olive oil or regular oil before adding them to the beans. It usually takes 3 or more hours to cook a pot of beans, keep adding water, if you burn the beans you'll have to throw them away. We always add a ham bone to cook with the beans - gives them a great taste.
King Cake - king cakes come ready to prepare or they can be ordered from Haydels Bakery in New Orleans. You'll love them.
Hurricanes - rum and fruit juices; be careful, one is plenty.
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