Dress up for fun and try some baked pancakes
How Mardi Gras began
And why New Orleans is the go-to place for it
Mardi Gras, coined America's greatest party, seems to be most lavishly celebrated in New Orleans. Historically, I found two origins of this festival (also known as Carnival).
The word Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday" in French. It signifies the last day one can eat rich, fatty foods prior to Ash Wednesday, when fasting during Lent begins. It was celebrated in Paris (before America) during the Middle Ages.
According to Arthur Hardy, an expert on Mardi Gras, in 1699 a group of French explorers, led by Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, christened a site on the west bank of the Mississippi river (about 60 miles south of New Orleans). Since it happened to be March 3rd (a day celebrated in France) it was named "Point du Mardi Gras."
Scanned from an old postcard (c. 1910)
The arrival of Rex, the monarch of Mardi Gras
Each year, on the Monday before Mardi Gras, a King (called "Rex") is publicly announced. This idea was formed in 1872 by New Orleans businessmen to "bring tourism and promote business" in the area following the American civil war. A Queen is also chosen. Traditionally, Rex arrives by boat on the Mississippi river.
Shown above is a New Orleans postcard from around 1910 which states, "Arrival of Rex, Mardi Gras."
Some feel it began earlier, in Rome
Other sources (including Hardy) make mention that it could have begun even earlier, in Rome. Known as Lupercalia, it was celebrated February 13th - 15th as a ritual of cleansing, health, and fertility. Some authors believe that Pope Gelasius I (who died November 19th, 496) renamed Lupercalia with the "Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary."
Why are purple, gold, and green so prominent?
You might wonder about the colors that are most commonly worn during Mardi Gras. They are purple, gold, and green (used on the Mardi Gras flag) which have Catholic origins.
Errol Laborde feels the colors are mainly for aesthetics yet other sources believe the colors were chosen to honor the guest Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia (1850 - 1908).
The common thread I found was that purple represents justice, gold represents power, and green represents faith. Beads, costumes, and masks of these colors are commonly worn during festivities.
To sum it all up: it's a celebration involving colorful costumes, fun, and decadent foods. I always knew it as Pancake Tuesday. In some workplaces and schools, cafeterias serve pancakes with our incredible Canadian maple syrup.
You will find costumes of all kinds on Amazon
But what struck me as irresistible was this one:
Amazon Price: $99.99 Buy Now
(price as of Feb 26, 2014)
Once you and your doggie are all decked out...
You're ready to bake some delicious golden pancakes:
Gluten-free baked pancakes from the oven?
Sure, they are similar to dutch baby pancakes.
Make sure you have decent oven mitts
and a large trivet (or similar) to put the pie pans on:
Perfect Gluten-Free Baked Pancakes
Serves: 3 - 4 | Prep Time: 10 mins | Total: 40 mins
6 tbsp. butter (3 tbsp. per pie pan)
1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (I use Bob's)
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum (omit if using regular flour)
1 cup milk
4 eggs (beaten)
2 tbsp. white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder (I use Magic brand)
Canadian maple syrup (or highest grade available)
1. Adjust your oven racks (if need be) so that pans will be centered. Grab two 9-inch pie pans and place them in the oven. Preheat oven to 420 F (215 C). (Ensure you have oven mitts and a safe surface ready for the hot pans to be placed upon).
2. In a medium bowl, beat 4 eggs and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together: gluten-free flour, xanthan gum (omit if using regular flour), sugar, salt, and baking powder.
3. Add milk to the eggs, combine well, and mix into the dry ingredients until almost smooth (it's okay to have a few lumps). TIP: It's helpful to pour the batter from a spouted bowl or measuring cup.
4. Have two portions (3 tbsp. each) of butter set aside on a plate near your oven area. Carefully, remove the hot pie pans and swirl 3 tbsp. of butter around in each one until melted. (See video previously). Then pour 1/2 the batter into each pie pan and pop them back in the oven.
5. Bake until pancakes are golden brown (they often puff up in the center and around the edges). A toothpick in the center should come out clean (about 30 minutes). Now you have time to set the table, get the syrup out, and the coffee started.
Everyone gets to eat pancakes at the same time
Just remember to pass the maple syrup around.
In Canada, Jakeman's is highly recommended
Grades A and B (No. 1 or No. 2) are preferable for pancakes.
Amazon Price: $17.00 Buy Now
(price as of Feb 26, 2014)