Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Posted by admin on February 13, 2017 in Culture |
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It’s time for Mardi Gras. I admit that I have never been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, largely because I have faithfully lived by the mantra, “Don’t go anyplace where people are crazier than you.”

Though I haven’t been to the Big Easy this time of year, it certainly doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate Mardi Gras. Maybe it’s the Catholic in me. Or maybe it’s because once you visit New Orleans, it sticks with you.

I have been there a couple of times. I really love strolling through the French Quarter, eating Beignets until I get sick, getting a muffuletta at the Central or stopping by one of the seemingly endless waystations that serve up frozen, boozy slush drinks.

And while I’ve never been to New Orleans proper for Mardi Gras, I have been to Mardis Gras elsewhere. Yes, New Orleans gets all the press for their take on this annual celebration of debauchery before the start of Lent, but Mardi Gras actually happens all along the Gulf Coast.

I know this because I was invited to be part of the entertainment at Mardi Gras in Port Arthur. That’s in Texas, hardly where one would think Mardi Gras should be. Oh sure, you should find it not far across the state line in Lake Charles. That’s Louisiana.  That makes sense. But Texas?

Well, the good people of Port Arthur will tell you that they invented Mardi Gras there. I don’t really want to delve into the history books to look all this up for you to confirm it, so I will just go with it, even if it is an alternate fact. Regardless of the truth of the claim, they do put on one helluva Mardi Gras celebration, complete with black tie balls, parades, food, booze and celebrities.Mardi Gras is a pretty mobile celebration; it ports well to other environs. While it can be damned hard to find

Mardi Gras is a pretty mobile celebration; it ports well to other environs. While it can be damned hard to find Olive Salad in Washington State, a key ingredient of muffalettas, you can still have a pretty fair fais do-do up this way, if you use just a bit of imagination.

I know this because my entire house is festooned right now in purple, yellow and gold, the traditional colors of Mardi Gras. Over the weekend there was the scent of beans and rice as I swung into the Mardi Gras mode. A Bourbon Street street sign hangs above the bar and a lamp post, albeit one in cardboard, is the first thing you see coming through the front door.

Cajun music wafts from the Loft and I couldn’t help but try out the Hurricane mix so that I could get the portions of rum and mix correct before guests came over. Anything in the name of science.

True, my Party Gras’ers aren’t due for another two weeks, but you can never get into the Mardi Gras mood too early.

This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten into the spirit either. Before I ever went to Texas for my first actual Mardi Gras, I would throw a party every once in a while. It doesn’t take a lot of work. Whip up some Jumbalaya, order up some Hurricane mix, open a dry mix of red beans and rice and make some cornbread for good measure.

bayou-barnI admit that I’ve gone overboard on more than one occasion in the past. One year, I decided to make a centerpiece for Mardi Gras. It started out simple enough. An old box, some foam core… wait! It needs lights inside. How can anyone have a party in a darkened bar.

Oh, and there has to be music. True to form, I couldn’t let any detail go, including adding an old tape deck to the back of the building, hidden by the bar that lined the back wall. Add in some revelers along the railing and voila! – the Bayou Barn was born.

Yeah, I overdo it sometimes. But as I said, I really like Mardi Gras.

I have promised my wife that I won’t overdo it this year. I agreed to start small. But still, I couldn’t resist figuring out how to have a bead throw from the Loft of the house. My poor Halloween skeleton ended up filling in for the drunk reveler down on the “street” and it took a few adjustments to finally make it so he could catch beads. It is even more challenging, given that there are crepe paper streamers cascading off the balcony and across the street, um, living room.

I admit that this all this Mardi Gras stuff is a lot easier these days. Back in the day, I had to figure out how to get CDs of cajun music In Washington and put together a good mix manually. Nowadays, I just select a channel from Apple Music and it does all the song selection for me. On Amazon, I can order up King Cake and Hurricane mix to my heart’s delight. They even have Olive Salad if I really need a muffuletta fix.

To some of my Northwest friends, it all seems a bit mysterious. I mean, I wasn’t born in the south. Sure, years ago we had a Fat Tuesday celebration in Seattle, but it was terminated by the city after a few years because it ended up blocking all the streets in Pioneer Square with revelers.

But no matter. This annual escape from the winter doldrums is alive and well at Tortuga Key, our own little fiefdom a half hour to the north of party-pooper Seattle. There, the unmistakable aroma of roux is already wafting through the house. Masks are in the making, the menu is all planned and we’re ready to let the good times roll come Feb. 25.

Yes, Fat Tuesday is Feb. 28. But who really wants to party it up on a work night? It’s true that I love Mardi Gras, but I’m old enough to know which side my bread is buttered. It’s the side opposite the Olive Salad, ya’ll! Geesh, do I have to do everything? Where is Justin Wilson when I need him?

Oh, here he is:

Now, if that don’t put you in the mood, nothing will. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

In the Emerald City, sourcing mudbugs,

  • Robb

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