Weekly Warm-Up: Some Mardi Gras Thoughts and Memories

Mardi Gras 2016 is this Tuesday—laissez les bon temps rouler! This terrific post about Mardi Gras in the U.S. was written by Rebecca Sheehan, Ph.D., back in 2009. Dr. Sheehan is an associate professor of geography at Oklahoma State University. The French Quarter is the quintessential center of Mardi Gras in New Orleans and traditionally what people associate with the celebration. Here, debauchery is at … Continue reading Weekly Warm-Up: Some Mardi Gras Thoughts and Memories

Fat Tuesday, krewes, Carnival, and shrimp jambalaya

2009-10-28_0000092.JPGFat Tuesday, krewes, Carnival, and shrimp jambalaya?!  You might be wondering: How did Tuesday get picked as the chubby day of the week?  Are they serving shrimp jambalaya at a carnival somewhere?  Does she know how to spell–the only “crew” I know of starts with a “c” and the plural form does not require an “es.”

I promise you that these phrases are all interrelated and pertinent to today’s topic—Mardi Gras!

Mardi Gras has its roots in celebrations that originated thousands of years ago at the time of pagan spring and fertility rites, such as the Roman festival of Saturnalia and Lupercalia. When Christianity came onto the scene, Roman religious leaders decided to incorporate the new faith into the local rituals and the tradition of Mardi Gras, or Carnival, before Lent each year began.  

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Geography of Top Chef


I don’t watch much TV, so you can imagine my dismay that Top Chef, one of the only shows I tune in to on a semi-regular basis, caps off season five tonight with the “reunion special.”

I like Top Chef for a number of reasons, the top two being (1) the creativity of the challenges, matched only by the skill of the chefs, and, of course, (2) the food (Note: Do not watch Top Chef, or any other culinary show, on an empty stomach: grumble)!

Food is rooted in geography from harvest to haute cuisine, as we’ve highlighted frequently on this blog (.e.g , Thirteen for Friday the 13th, Make Like the Pilgrims, Gas Prices and Tomatoes and Bees, Oh My!, Flavor Friday, etc). As I watched the Top Chef Season Finale last week, I couldn’t help but be reminded of this reality. Here’s a geographic look at season five:

Hosea Rosenberg traveled cross country from Boulder, Colorado, having spent the recent years of his career working in a seafood restaurant–interesting, as Colorado is one of the most landlocked U.S. states, with at least two states separating it from the ocean in any direction. For his final meal of the season, Hosea went with “flesh” selections reflecting both his culinary experience and his upbringing in the American West: seafood and venison.

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A Mardi Gras Photo Retrospective

All around the world this week, people celebrated the final days before Lent, a 40-day fast that is typically associated with Catholicism. National Geographic News featured these photos on their website today and I would like to share them with all of you. Compare these photos with the ones featured on the guest blog about Mardi Gras celebrations here in the United States. Enjoy!

090224-01-mardi-gras_big.jpgFebruary 23, 2009–Above, a dancer fearlessly performs atop an intimidating float during Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Monday. 
–Photograph by Natacha Pisarenko/AP

090224-02-mardi-gras_big.jpgFebruary 22, 2009–Clouds of fire emanate from the mouth of a performer in Barranquilla, Colombia, on Sunday.

The city’s version of Carnival was declared a “Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO in 2003, which means the international organization urges protection of the event as a cultural treasure.

–Photograph by Fernando Vergara/AP

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