Carnival, loosely translated to "kiss your flesh goodbye" in Latin, is celebrated in various ways throughout the world. It begins on Three Kings' Day—or the Feast of Epiphany—and ends on Ash Wednesday, intended to be a preparation for lent. Many Roman Catholic countries and areas celebrate the pre-Lenten season by indulging in food, drink, and partying in the weeks of late January and early February.
Technically, Mardi Gras, which is French for "Fat Tuesday," is defined as the day before Ash Wednesday. However, in New Orleans in particular, "Mardi Gras" typically refers to the two weeks leading up to this day, when most parades, balls, banquets, and celebrations are held. Mardi Gras is a single day in the Carnival celebration season, but often the words are used interchangeably.
Check out Chowhound's Mardi Gras recipes to celebrate the Carnival season:
The King Cake is one of the traditional Mardi Gras staples. Typically, a plastic baby is cooked inside, and whoever gets the slice with the plastic baby must host the next party. Here, the party favor is optional and the cake is delicious, regardless. Get our Mardi Gras King Cake recipe.
This classic gumbo dish is ready in just 40 minutes. After making a golden roux from vegetable oil and flour, soften some onion and bell peppers, simmer andouille sausage and frozen okra, and warm up the shredded chicken, and dinner is served! Get our Easy Chicken Gumbo recipe.
With large pieces of shrimp in a warming, easy bisque, this dish is a classic New Orleans comfort meal. We recommend a large batch for a flavorful and light, yet filling meal during the Mardi Gras festivities. Get our Cognac Shrimp Bisque recipe.
While the Hurricane cocktail didn't originate there, Pat O’Brien’s French Quarter Bar gave it fame after beginning to serve it in the 1930s. It's deceptively strong and easy to throw together at home. Get our Hurricane Cocktail recipe.
This Jambalaya recipe substitutes the traditional white rice for a nuttier wild rice, while maintaining the traditional sausage, shrimp, and pepper. We recommend this hearty dish before a day or night of Mardi Gras drinking. Get our Wild Rice Jambalaya recipe.
This biscuit recipe adds one medium mashed sweet potato to yield a more moist and slightly sweet biscuit. It's perfect for soaking up jambalaya, bisque, or gumbo—or enjoyed on their own, warm with butter. Get our Sweet Potato Biscuits recipe.