Mardi Gras: History, Recipes and More!

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Mardi Gras Beads

Tuesday, March 4th marks the official day of Mardi Gras 2014. Every year you hear about lavish parties for Fat Tuesday, but do you know why people celebrate it in the first place? Learn about the history of Mardi Gras, traditional recipes and ways you can celebrate at your restaurant!

History

While New Orleans seems to be declared as the unofficial Mardi Gras capital, this holiday is actually celebrated around the world. Dating back to thousands of years ago, Mardi Gras was originally meant for celebrations of spring and fertility. After the arrival of Christianity, Mardi Gras was a way to mark the beginning of Lenten season.

Mardi Gras parade“Traditionally, in the days leading up to Lent, merrymakers would binge on all the meat, eggs, milk and cheese that remained in their homes, preparing for several weeks of eating only fish and fasting,” states this History article. Mardis Gras also became known as “Fat Tuesday” because of the excessive eating and drinking before Lent.

The first American Mardi Gras took place on March 3, 1699 when French explorers landing in Louisiana and held a small celebration and declared that spot “Mardi Gras”.

Fast forward to the year of 1827, where a group of students who just got back from visiting Paris wore colorful costumes and danced through the streets of New Orleans recreating what they saw in France. This tradition stuck and ten years later the first official Mardi Gras occurred in New Orleans.

Traditional Recipes

Ready to celebrate Mardi Gras at your restaurant? Make sure you have some traditional food offered so guests can really get the entire experience.

Appetizers

Okra Fritters by MGF/Lady Disdain

Okra Fritters by MGF/Lady Disdain

Entrées

Desserts

King Cake by Jenni Fields

King Cake by Jenni Fields

Ways to Celebrate at Your Restaurant

Now that you’ve got the food and menu covered, how else can you celebrate Mardi Gras at your restaurant? Bring in lots of colorful décor to add vibrancy and atmosphere of a New Orleans celebration. Set out beads and masks on each table and play traditional New Orleans music for ambiance. You can purchase colorful dinnerware to add color, and use food picks with crowns on them for serving up sandwiches, appetizers, etc.

Come up with creative promotions to draw your customers in for the celebration. Offer a discount for guests that arrive in the best Mardi Gras attire or play a Mardi Gras trivia game and the winner can get a prize or discount. You can even bake a few King Cakes with plastic baby dolls in them, and serve up pieces to guests at a designated time. Whoever receives a plastic baby doll is the King or Queen for the night (and is supposed to have good luck for the rest of the year!).

Mardi Gras is all about eating delicious food and having a good time. This night can really bring in guests looking to go out, celebrate and have a good time. If you serve up traditional recipes and add some color to your ordinary restaurant décor, guests will line up in no time!

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