Mardi Gras Celebration: From Nice to Nola

February 27, 2017 1 Comment

Mardi Gras Celebration: From Nice to Nola

Mardi-Gras (literally “Fat Tuesday”) is originally a catholic event which marks the end of the “week of the seven fat days” which were known as “jours charnels” (meaning carnival) in the old days. Before Ash Wednesday, the start of the fasting period of Lent, people celebrated in many diverse ways as it was their last chance until Easter to eat meat. The word “carnival” derives from the Latin “carnelevare” meaning “to take out the meat”. Indeed, meat was banished from the table during the whole period of Lent, as was sugar, ingredients containing fat, eggs and dairy products. If in Europe, the religious observance of Lent is followed by a rather small group of people, the celebrations around Mardi-Gras are still an opportunity taken by many to enjoy outdoor feasts, masquerade processions, masked balls, parades, pageants, jugglers, magicians and stilt walkers. This is what French people call “le Carnaval”. 



"Le Carnaval" is not exclusive to France but most French cities celebrate Mardi-Gras and organize big parade including the notably known "Carnaval de Nice." One of the French tradition is to celebrate this holiday in schools where children prepare one of dressed-up in any imaginative way, from animals to supermen, and from Pierrots to princesses… But French kids are not the only ones to put on their favorite costume… Many adults celebrate "Le Carnaval" in towns such as Nice, Mulhouse, Paris, Dunkirk, Annecy or Lille and go out all disguised with make-up, fancy hats and elaborate masks, to dance and sing in the streets, while throwing confetti.
 flower Carnaval de Nice, France


In addition to France, Brazil, Venice and New Orleans play host to some of the holiday’s most famous public festivities, drawing thousands of tourists and revelers every year.


venise carnivalCarnaval de Venise, Italy



Many historians believe that the first American Mardi Gras took place on March 3, 1699, when the French explorers Iberville and Bienville landed in what is now Louisiana, just south of the holiday’s future epicenter: New Orleans. They held a small celebration and dubbed the spot Point du Mardi Gras. In the decades that followed, New Orleans and other French settlements began marking the holiday with street parties, masked balls and lavish dinners.
On Mardi Gras in 1827, a group of students donned colorful costumes and danced through the streets of New Orleans, emulating the revelry they’d observed while visiting Paris. Ten years later, the first recorded New Orleans Mardi Gras parade took place, a tradition that continues to this day. In 1857, a secret society of New Orleans businessmen called the Mistick Krewe of Comus organized a torch-lit Mardi Gras procession with marching bands and rolling floats, setting the tone for future public celebrations in the city. Other lasting customs include throwing beads and other trinkets, wearing masks, decorating floats and eating King Cake.
mardi gras
Nola traditions: purple, yellow and green 


Louisiana is the only state in which Mardi Gras is a public holiday. However, elaborate carnival festivities draw crowds in other parts of the United States during the Mardi Gras season as well, including Alabama and Mississippi


nola carnival Carnival in Louisiana, USA


Mardi gras is not just about Carnival but also amazing food. Discover three recipes that will bring happiness to your home. 




 Beignets de Carnaval 


1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and baking sheet
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup whole milk
1 large egg
8 cups safflower oil, for bowl and frying
Confectioners' sugar, for coating


  1. Using a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together yeast, warm water, and granulated sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and nutmeg. While mixing yeast mixture on medium speed, add butter. In a smaller bowl, lightly whisk together milk and egg using a fork before adding to the yeast-butter mixture. Mix in 1 1/2 cups flour mixture to combine, then add 1 3/4 cups more flour mixture and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in remaining 1/4 cup flour mixture by hand until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes.

  2. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out dough to a 12-inch square. Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut dough into 3-inch squares. Transfer squares to a floured baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 30 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium pot or deep-fryer until it registers 350 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in batches, add a few squares to the oil and fry, rolling them around constantly with a slotted spoon or spider, until golden brown all over, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer beignets to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Coat with confectioners' sugar, and repeat process with remaining dough and more confectioners' sugar. Serve warm.



    Recipe from Martha Stewart 


    King Cake (Traditional New Orleans Recipe)


    1 cup milk
    1/4 cup butter
    2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
    2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
    1/2 cup white sugar
    2 eggs
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

    1 cup packed brown sugar
    1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
    2/3 cup chopped pecans
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup raisins
    1/2 cup melted butter

    1 cup confectioners' sugar
    1 tablespoon water



    1. Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

    2. When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.

    3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.

    4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

    5. To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.

    6. Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10x16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

    7. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Push the doll into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners' sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.


    Traditional NOLA Recipe


    Oreillettes or Merveilles (Traditional Provençal French Recipe)


    18 ounces of flour 
    2 ounces of powder sugar 
    1 teaspoon of baking powder 
    3 eggs
    1 lemon zest 
    1 orange zest
    1 generous tablespoon of orange-blossom 
     2 ounces of butter
    Cooking oil 
    Icing sugar 



      1. Grate the lemon and orange zests. In a salad bowl, mix in the flour with the baking powder. Form a well in the centre of the flour and add: the zests, a pinch of salt, 50 g of softened butter, the powder sugar, a generous tablespoon of orange-blossom water and the three eggs, beaten into an omelette.

      2. Knead the mixture, with hardly any water, and let it rest for two hours. Take some pieces of the dough and roll them out very thinly with a rolling pin before cutting them in to diamond shapes.

      3. Pour some cooking oil into a pan, heat it without letting it smoke and cook the dough on both sides, one or two diamonds at a time, before draining them on paper towels.

      4. Sprinkle with icing sugar 



       Recipe from the South of France


      Bon appétit and Happy Mardi Gras !



      Les girls from APPARiS

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      February 27, 2017

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