Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the last big shebang before the Lent season — rich foods play a central role in the celebrations.
The holiday and some of the traditions that still stand date back to springtime celebrations thousands of years ago, including early Roman festivals, the History Channel reports.
Rather than observe every holiday individually when Christianity arrived in Rome, all of the traditions and celebrations were observed and melded, resulting in the boisterous and indulgent celebration of Mardi Gras.
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Historically, the purpose of the holiday is to use the remaining foods that won’t be consumed during Lent, such as meat, eggs, milk and cheese, according to History Channel.
Thus, finding vegetarian or vegan-friendly foods during Lent isn’t tricky, but might prove more challenging on Mardi Gras.
Celebratory spreads include foods straight from the Bayou – gumbo, jambalaya and crawfish, Southern Living reports – but nary a vegetarian option beyond pastries like king cake or beignets.
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Though it isn’t the “traditional” thing to do, a lot of foods can be prepared to suit vegetarians who want to take part on Fat Tuesday:
- Red beans and rice: Traditionally made with sausage, chicken stock and ham hocks, the meat in this recipe from New Orleans Online can be removed and the stock can be replaced with vegetable stock.
- Jambalaya: A recipe from Food Network tosses in shrimp, sausage, chicken and chicken stock. Double up on the veggies and swap out the stock again for vegetable stock — you probably won’t even notice a change in taste.
- Gumbo: A traditional gumbo recipe from Epicurious uses clam juice and chicken broth, as well as shrimp, sausage and chicken. Swap out the protein for extra firm tofu or toss in a double load of vegetables. Again, pour in vegetable broth and omit any seafood, unless you’re a pescetarian.
After the winter blast ripped through northern Indiana on Valentine’s Day, it’s a great time to kick back and warm up with a taste of the Big Easy. If you go out to eat, be sure to ask the staff about the ingredients in any traditional foods if you have special dietary needs. There are a handful of places to go out and celebrate with food and live music in Michiana.
How are you celebrating Mardi Gras this year?