Today is Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, or the last day of Mardi Gras before Ash Wednesday which is the start of Lent. This has created a tradition to party it up before the fasting begins. Here are some of the traditional foods that are eaten on Fat Tuesday.
In the UK, the day before Lent has been called Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday. The reason for calling it Pancake Day is because of the restrictions for eating sugar, fat, and eggs during the fasting weeks. So they eat pancakes in this area in order to enjoy these foods which they won’t eat for quite a while. In Ireland, they may also call it Pancake Tuesday. People in Iceland call the Day Sprengidagur which translates to “Bursting Day” and they tend to eat salt meat and peas until they feel like their stomachs will burst.
In the US, the Polish Catholics in Chicago and Detroit call it Pączki Day. There have Pączki eating contests and celebrate by eating other ethnic foods from Poland. Pączki is a Polish doughnut which look a lot like the jelly filled doughnuts that most people are familiar with eating.
In New Orleans, Louisiana, it is traditional to have a King cake. The Louisiana version of the King cake is often decorated with purple, yellow, and green colors for the Mardi Gras celebration. The cake is often a twisted brioche sweet French bread that sometimes has a filling of nuts or fruit and have icing drizzled on top and colored sugar sprinkled on top in the Mardi Gras colors.
1 cup butter (2 sticks), plus 1 Tbs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sliced fresh okra
3 cups shrimp stock
2 cups bottled clam juice
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes with juice
3 bay leaves
1 Tbs parsley
1 Tbs Cajun seasoning
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper
1 cups cooked smoked sausage, sliced diagonally
2 lbs shrimp, cleaned and deveined
In a large heavy saucepan, over low heat, melt 1 cup of the butter. Add the flour, and cook on low heat until the roux is dark brown; about 30 to 45 minutes, stirring constantly. Note: Brown does not mean burnt; if you burn the roux you have to throw it out and start over again.
Add the onions, celery, peppers and garlic and sauté until translucent.
Mix in the okra and the remaining ingredients, including the remaining 1 Tbs of butter, and simmer over medium-low heat until thick, about 1 hour. Before serving, remove the bay leaves. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve over white rice.