Mardi Gras

Anyone who thinks Mardi Gras is just a chance to party doesn't know enough about the food surrounding this annual festival. The food of New Orleans is the stuff of legend - spicy jambalaya, blackened catfish, savory dirty rice --really, what's not to love? Many of this region's Cajun staples are stews built on rich, dark roux. (Its deep flavor is present in every bite of seafood gumbo and shrimp etouffe.) When you're on the hunt for Mardi Gras recipes, look for traditional preparations that hold true to the Cajun and Creole tradition. This cuisine doesn't need any fancy twists or updates - it's beauty is in its simplicity. Once you've cleared the dinner plates, it's time for king cake. This colorfully decorated cake isn't just a sweet dessert - local custom dictates that the baker add a trinket (often a tiny baby doll) to the batter. The lucky guest who finds the doll in his slice is "king of the feast". Hiding a trinket (it was once typically a bean, now bakers often a place a tiny baby doll) in the batter in this festively decorated cake is a Mardi Gras tradition.

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