NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 8: A masked rider in the Rex parade throws a cup to people in the crowd on Mardi Gras March 8, 2011 in News Orleans, Louisiana.  Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday is the final day of Carnival, and the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. It's been celebrated in Louisiana since the late 17th century when it was under French colonial rule. (Photo by Cheryl Gerber/Getty Images)

Your Essential Food Guide to Mardi Gras

new-orleans-beignetsAround the world, thousands flood the streets of major cities to celebrate Carnival. Here in the United States this festival is celebrated in New Orleans, Louisiana. Similar to Carnevale di Venezia, Carnival in the Big Easy is host to parades all month long leading up to Mardi Gras and the closer it gets the crazier it gets. Some dress in full costume where some barely dress at all. Bourbon Street is lined in swaths of glimmering green, gold, and purple. With faces covered in extravagant masks, beads constantly flying through the air and feather boas flowing across the crowd Carnival is a unique cultural experience not to be missed. little-jewel-best-po-boy-los-angeles-anne-fishbeinCentral to any cultural experience is the food. If you don’t eat what the locals eat, have you actually been there? Famous for it’s Cajun and Creole Cuisine, New Orleans is the perfect place for a crazy party like Carnival. This festival gives the local eateries a crowd to showcase their traditional dishes. From Crawfish to Beignets, New Orleans Carnival food is quick and easy. Stop into any restaurant in the French Quarter and you’ll easily find great places to eat. Some standard fare include crawfish and other shellfish which are commonly boiled and served with corn and potatoes. Another easy meal is the Po’boy: a submarine sandwich on french bread filled with fried seafood such as shrimp or catfish topped with lettuce, tomato and a remoulade. Pat O' Briens HurricaneTo pair with these foods, you’ve got to have Hurricanes the classic New Orleans cocktail made with Rum, fruit juice and grenadine. If a sweet drink isn’t your preference you can always find a Sazerac (cognac based cocktail) in NOLA. It just wouldn’t be Carnival without a Hurricane or a Sazerac. And for dessert: Beignets. New Orleans is famous for this French version of the Italian zeppole, a beignet is a sweet fried dough ball topped with powdered sugar. Another important dessert in NOLA during this festival is the King Cake. Made specifically for the Mardi Gras celebration, the King Cake is a pastry filled with raisins, cinnamon, and pecans. In true New Orleans style, an additional ingredient fills this holiday treat: a trinket, originally a porcelain baby that represented Jesus, that promises luck to the finder. The person who does find the trinket is in charge of next year’s king cake and hosting the Mardi Gras party. Celebrate, reinvent old traditions, forge new ones, it’s Carnival!

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Around the world, thousands flood the streets of major cities to celebrate Carnival. Here in the United States this festival is ...

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