By the time late February rolls around, many of us are fighting off severe cases of the winter blues. Fortunately, just in time to nip the blues in the bud, it’s time to celebrate Carnival, or Mardi Gras.
Carnival festivities erupt all over the globe. However, in the five days leading up to Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) – which this year falls on February 28 – the frolicking reaches a feverish pitch.
Feast before you Fast
Mardi Gras traditions include dressing up and pigging out. In fact, “Carnival” is derived from the Latin terms carne (“meat”) and vale (“farewell”). Ancient Christians had to “say goodbye” to meat and dairy products in preparation for the 40 days they would spend cleansing their spirits – and bodies – before Lent. “Fat Tuesday” was the name given to the last day of feasting before the fasting began on Ash Wednesday.
To this day, food is an essential part of Mardi Gras celebrations. Indeed, in some countries such as Great Britain, Fat Tuesday is known as Pancake Day. This is because making pancakes was an ideal way to use up eggs, milk and butter before beginning the Lenten fast.
In Britain, some celebrants commemorate by competing in Pancake Races. This involves running with a skillet while trying to toss a hot flapjack into the air (and catch it!). Less sporty types are content to dig into a stack of pancakes fresh off the griddle. At Delysia Chocolatier, we approve of this tradition. To make extra festive Mardi Gras pancakes, we suggest crumbling pieces of our delicious chocolate bark into the batter.
Doubloons and Moon Pies
On this side of the Atlantic, Mardi Gras festivities involve other sweet treats. In New Orleans, a famous tradition involves masqueraded revelers on floats who toss trinkets down to crowds in the street. Historically, “throws” consisted of colored beads and toys. However, in the mid-20th century riders started showering onlookers with coins called doubloons. Originally made of wood or aluminum, over time chocolate doubloons (wrapped in colored foil) have become as popular as Delysia’s own collection of molded chocolates.
America’s first ever Mardi Gras celebration was held in Mobile, in 1703. It was also here, in the 1950s, that revelers began to throw Moon Pies. Invented in Tennessee in 1917, a Moon Pie consists of two round graham cracker cookies dipped in chocolate, with a marshmallow filling.
For those who won’t make it to Mardi Gras this year, we recommended putting the fat in Fat Tuesday by improvising your own Moon Pie. Along with graham crackers, all you need is Delysia’s handmade marshmallows, and chocolate bark to melt on top. Then, as they say during Mardi Gras in New Orleans: “Laissez les bons temps rouler,” or “Let the good times roll”!