Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Can you believe a grocery store in the protestant Bible Belt had the nerve to sell King Cake, a product that  should only be left in the hands of professionals or moms at home who know what they're doing? (For the record, I don't.  But I tried:)

I always feel a bit nostalgic for Louisiana this time of year.  I traveled to Mardi Gras every year for a decade--behavior you can get away with in your late teens and twenties.  I always stayed with my aunt and uncle and for one glorious weekend they took me down into the thick of things: the corner of St. Charles and Julia

Mardi Gras, for a long time, was a product of the south in the USA, and south Louisiana in particular. It's historically a Catholic holiday and in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the cities still shut down for the occasion. Over the years, I think due to commerce more than anything, the celebration has spread across the land. One can now buy beads and other assorted accoutrements  in their local hobby stores, and of course the internet has certainly helped in making Mardi Gras a more democratic experience. 

But no town here can do it like New Orleans. Parades, call Krewes, "roll" for weeks before Fat Tuesday, but the weekend prior to Mardi Gras is when the real fun happens: Venus, Bacchus, Endymion, Iris, Tucks, Mid City, Hermes, Thoth, Morpheus, d'Etat, Orpheus, Zulu, Rex, Pete Fountain...

Over the years I've seen all of those.  I had visions of riding in a parade at one time.  A New Orleans friend would ride with me and she would be my "in" as you can't just call up some secretary for the krewe of Iris and ask to ride on a float.   Alas, I lost touch with her following Katrina although I'm sure she's still on a corner in the city somewhere every year.  

There's a lot of money that gets tossed in the streets annually.  My aunt, who was born and raised not only in New Orleans but steeped in the Mardi Gras tradition (her father, and thus she and her siblings, were on the parade routes rain or shine), said that the parades, and the number of "throws", have become increasingly decadent over the years.  Take Bacchus, a well-known parade that used to roll every Saturday night (this year it was on Sunday).  Twenty years ago, it cost a few thousand dollars just to be a member of the krewe--which gave one the privilege of riding in the parade.  However, members were required to purchase at least a thousand dollars worth of throws.  God knows what the costs run them now.  

None-the-less, it's one of the best celebrations out there and I highly encourage you to experience it just once if you can.  You've never seen anything like it, rest assured.  -> 



tHG said...

And for a day, he will be.

Baysage said...

You can imagine: I find it an abomination before God and man that any place outside of south Louisiana and Mobile AL even =pretends= that they know anything about Mardi Gras. Much less king cake and etc.