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Where Y’Eat: Carrying Mardi Gras Forward with Food

King cake is one edible emblem of Mardi Gras in New Orleans
King cake is one edible emblem of Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Everyone has their favorite part of Mardi Gras. My favorite part is you. It’s the way New Orleans people put so much of themselves into the celebration, making Mardi Gras a communal experience we create, instead of just another event we attend.

This time around, that spirit is about all we have left. Well, that and a lot of king cake.

With parades and balls already canceled, now bars are closed from Friday through the end of Mardi Gras.

Restaurants do remain open, as do many other markets, makers, and purveyors of local flavor. So, we still have food, the perpetual centerpiece of any New Orleans celebration, our steady consolation through the hardest times.

It remains one way to carry Mardi Gras through this one.

Think back to last spring when Jazz Fest would have taken place. Many embraced the idea of Festing in Place, turning yards and porches into mini tributes to the festival days.

Can we summon the spirit again? Can we recast the attitude of Festing in Place for Fat Tuesday? Perhaps call it Fattening in Place. By place, I’m including our place at our restaurants' socially-distanced tables.

The New Orleans food world is trying to meet the moment, and hoping people will meet them at least halfway, from special menus and package deal curbside meals to simply keeping the doors open for a Lundi Gras lunch.

Your favorite boiled seafood spots are rolling, and your go-to for parade route fried chicken will be happy to see you even if you’re getting a smaller box.

Bars have to close from Friday until Ash Wednesday. But people have been filling tip jars before this latest final last call and getting creative with ways to keep a little more money in circulation.

Circulating is what we all normally do at Carnival. Finding ways to do that with our support, with our generosity, with our sense of togetherness in this fight, can still make this a memorable Mardi Gras.

Copyright 2021 WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio. To see more, visit WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio.

Ian is the host of Where Y’Eat and the Community Impact series at WWNO.