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Mardi Gras Cooking Cajun Style
Mardi Gras is a special time of year down in Cajun Country. Even if you don't live down around New Orleans you can still celebrate some of the fun revelry associated with Mardi Gras by throwing a grand old meal fitting of King Rex himself. The trick with bringing Mardi Gras to the Midwest or wherever you may wonder is to always have the frame of mind that makes Mardi Gras such a fun and enjoyable event for people from all over the world. If that doesn't work a bowl or two of gumbo followed by a hand grenade or hurricane and topped off with some Mardi Gras music should do the trick quite nicely. Seriously part of the charm and intrigue of Mardi Gras and the city of New Orleans is the food that has made this city almost as famous as its ability to party. If you are wondering what to cook to bring the spirit of Mardi Gras into your home from afar try any of the traditional favorites.
If ingredients prove difficult to come by you might want to add a little rice, a little spice, and a lot of hot sauces to your favorite family meal. Those who live in New Orleans often use rice to stretch the budget of the food. Rice is filling and has traditionally been quite cost effective. This makes rice a great meal for many of the families of New Orleans that have traditionally been quite poor. Rice is used in all manner of dishes from gumbo to red beans and rice to jambalaya and many dishes in between.
It is probably the one staple of Cajun cuisine that you will find very few restaurants in the city without. Otherwise there are wide variances in cuisine according to cost and culture (though the more expensive foods are typically considered Creole rather than Cajun kind of a city cousin - country cousin relationship between the cuisines). The rich could afford foods the poor couldn't even consider. Spices are prevalent in these dishes for much the same reason that rice is. They have traditionally been an inexpensive method of seasoning dishes that would otherwise be quite bland. Expect to find plenty of spices and a little bit of heat in most traditional Cajun dishes throughout the city. Some restaurants that cater to tourists have slightly watered down versions of local favorites but for the most part you will find that Cajuns handle the heat quite well though they do keep plenty of iced tea on tap to help combat those dishes that get a teensy bit too hot to handle. If you want to try something with a little less kick a po-boy or muffaletta might be what hits the spot. These sandwiches are more than a little deceiving in appearance however as they are very filling. French fries are still a Cajun favorite though we also have a popular dish called fried sweet potatoes, yes in the south we fry everything but it is something a little bit different and the sweetness of the fried sweet potatoes can often counteract some of the heat of other Cajun favorites.
You can find recipes for all of these online quite easily though you will probably have a bit of time finding the perfect bread for a po boy anywhere outside the Crescent City. There is a unique "chewiness" to the perfect po boy bread that may be imitated elsewhere but I've never quite found anything to compare and I've been all over the country. For the perfect finish for your Cajun cooking you should make a point of purchasing some chicory coffee. This is easily accomplished via the Café du Monde website if your local coffee shop doesn't have any on hand. Historically, chicory was added to coffee and often used instead of coffee because it was much cheaper than actual coffee. This meant it could stretch the more expensive coffee beans and provide a similar taste and texture with that hint of chicory. It's a rather unique flavor and for many people is synonymous with the city itself. It's quite easy to plan your Mardi Gras cooking no matter how far from New Orleans you may roam. PPPPP 709 .
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