April, May and June in Louisiana is the season for toe-tapping, lip-licking and general good times. The New Orleans Jazz , the Festival Internationale, and the French Quarter Festival have come and gone but there are more festivals scheduled during late spring and early summer.
The Creole Tomato Festival, the Cajun Music Festival. the Blueberry Festival and the Corn Festival are on my list to attend. Where else can you get not only good food, but also great music?
My mouth is watering for the first of the Creole tomatoes that are beginning to hit the markets. In my book, nothing is better than thick slices of those delicious local tomatoes dusted with salt and freshly ground black pepper on toasted French bread slathered with mayonnaise. Yum! Of course, another favorite is a salad of the tomatoes, snipped fresh basil leaves, slices of mozzarella all drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Or, maybe you would also enjoy a chilled soup of garden fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, celery, parsley and/or cilantro. I canâ€™t get enough of the stuff.
Here in Louisiana we barely have time to catch a breath after the Christmas holidays because we go right into the Carnival season, which begins on Twelfth Night. As soon as the new year begins, King Cakes are everywhere—bakeries, the supermarkets, and of course right here at Cajungocer.com.
So be prepared, and get your order in as soon as possible so you can begin hosting King Cake parties. If you donâ€™t already know about the history of these delightful cakes, let me fill you in. Years ago, a small coin or token, perhaps a bean or pecan half was hidden in the cake. Whoever finds the treasure (these days itâ€™s usually a tiny ceramic or plastic baby doll) is to host the next Kingâ€™s Cake party the following week. The ring-shaped cake is usually decorated with sugar tinted in the classic carnival colors of green, gold and purple symbolizing Faith, Power and Justice. The original cakes were made of a simple but rich yeast dough. Today many of them are filled with cream cheese, cinnamon, pecans and a host of other sweet delights.
While New Orleans is the usual destination for Carnival revelers, there are a lot of festivities as well in Acadiana. The Carnival season there is perhaps little less hectic than in the Crescent City, but lots of fun nevertheless. In downtown Lafayette, the Hub City of Acadiana, and in smaller surrounding communities, Mardi Gras is celebrated much like it is in New Orleans, but on a smaller scale.
Families arrive early to line the parade routes and the aroma of barbecue, fish-fries, and gumbo wafts through the air, mingling with the whiffs of street food—hot dogs, fried shrimp on a stick, and boudin on a bun.
I always get a kick watching people in masks and costumes decked out as jailbirds, cowboys, Indians, Louisiana governors, and voodoo queens sauntering along the streets with children in tow, dressed in clown costumes with painted faces.
One year, at a neighborhood party, two swamp creatures wrapped in Spanish moss deftly turned chicken, sausage and pork chops on the grill. I quietly prayed that neither would catch on fire!
Like our city cousins, food is the main ingredient in the festivities.
For instance, in the prairie towns of Church Point, Mamou, and Basile, there are courirs, the running of Mardi Gras in the rural communities. Costumed horseback riders gallop around the countryside gathering chickens, rice, and all the makings for a communal gumbo that is cooked at the end of the day.
If you canâ€™t come to Louisiana for Mardi Gras, you can certainly host your very own Carnival party. Browse our website and youâ€™ll find all the makings for a grand buffet. For instance, we have a wide assortment of boudin, the local rice and pork sausage that is a must for a Louisana-themed party. And donâ€™t forget the gumbo. Save yourself some time and energy and order your favorites from us! Be sure to have lots of rice and French bread to go along with the gumbo.
Although I love all the holiday food that includes baked turkeys, roasted wild ducks and geese, turduckens and all the popular sides like rice dressing, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole and a whole lot more, I often host an all-seafood holiday meal. You might want to entertain the idea of doing this for your family and friends.
If you can, get a sack of oysters to shuck for oysters on the half-shell â€“ some to serve with cocktail sauce (a combination of ketchup, horseradish, hot sauce and fresh lemon juice) and others to prepare for oysters Bienville. Then again, you can fry some up to make oyster po-boys (donâ€™t forget the French bread) and dress the sandwiches with tartar or remoulade sauce. If oysters arenâ€™t an option, by all means, begin the meal with crawfish or shrimp boudin (yes, we have both on our website). Offer remoulade sauce in which to dip the boudin! Wonderful.
Move on to lobster tails (we have that too), which can be slow-poached in butter to prevent the tail meat from becoming dry and tough. I pinched the recipe for this from Thomas Keller at the French Laundry, and I think youâ€™ll love this technique.
Maybe shrimp is more to your liking? Shrimp is so versatile â€“ they can be boiled and served with cocktail and/or remoulade sauce. Try them tossed with salad greens and dressed with vinaigrette dressing for a light supper. Hey, get some eggplant and make eggplant Bechamel.
You can also opt to try our yellow fin tuna (sashimi grade). Iâ€™ll tell you how to prepare it for an appetizer or main course.
ORDER YOUR GIFT BASKETS NOW!
And another suggestion, get out your Christmas gift-giving list and place your orders NOW for everyone on your list. We can make up gift baskets to include just about anything—pickled okra (great to plop in a martini), hot sauces of all kinds, mustards, jambalaya and gumbo mixes, spices, pralines and zydeco CDs! Your friends will love you when they receive one of our gift baskets.