Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday, is the culmination of the the Mardi Gras season, traditionally celebrated by consuming copious amount of alcohol and fatty foods in preparation for Lent. Mardi Gras varies from city to city, with Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Fastnacht in Dusseldorf and Carnevale in Milan, but all have ties to the religious obligations and fasting period of Lent that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday, lasting forty days. While Lent is a Christian tradition practiced by Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists and Anglicans to remember -- Mardi Gras has become a celebration that can be embraced by all. In the United States, Mardi Gras has its strongest associations with New Orleans, Louisiana. The tradition of Mardi Gras was brought to the area in the 17th century, when King Louis XIV sent Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville and Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville to lay claim on the French territory of Louisane (now the states of Alabama, Mississippi and Lousiana). The residents of New Orleans pride themselves on their French heritage and embrace the slogan of Mardi Gras, Laissez les bon temp rouler, meaning "let the good times roll".
New Orleans has made a name for itself by upholding the spirit of Mardi Gras and integrating those traditions and the cultures of their mixed southern and french, spanish and carribean heritage into everday life. The mixture of cultures is evident in the people and the cuisine in Louisiana, and creole food is just one great example. Creole food is centered around the idea of the "Holy Trinity": chopped onions, celery and bell peppers. This shrimp creole recipe relies heavily on the "trinity" and the freshest, plumpest shrimp you can find. You can definitely play around with this recipe and add in chicken and sausage or chorizo for a heartier dish, as well as adjusting the heat factor to your liking. I added more hot pepper flakes to mine! My little sister Veronica and I really enjoyed this dish with a class of pinot grigio and some crusty bread to soak up the sauce with. Rice would be great, we were just ready to dig in and didn't have the patience for the cooking time!
Check out the recipe here: