There’s a lot of major food-related holidays this week: Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is tomorrow, Valentine’s Day the day after that, and Chinese New Year begins on Friday. It’s rare that all of these fall during the same week, so take advantage of all the excuses to celebrate!
Let’s start with Mardi Gras. This annual celebration leads up to the beginning of Lent (which this year begins on Valentine’s Day). And while New Orleans isn’t the only place where Mardi Gras festivals take place, it’s certainly the most famous. So here are a few ideas for cooking up your own New Orleans-style celebration:
- Piña Colada Bread Pudding (or Bananas Foster Bread Pudding variation in Issue 6 of our eMagazine)
- Jambalaya (also found in Issue 6)
By the way, do you know what those traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold stand for? We’ll share the answers in the comments below in case you’d like to take a guess first.
Now of course, Valentine’s Day is all about chocolate, right? In fact, we even created and hosted a Chocolate Lover’s Dinner one year! Here are a few recipes for your own chocolate-infused menu:
- Chocolate Pasta (from Issue 6 of our eMagazine)
- Banana Chocolate Chip Napoleons with Chocolate Ganache
- Chocolate Chai Crepes
- Sweetheart Latte
And finally, the Chinese New Year (or Spring Festival) ushers in the Year of the Dog. Celebrations will kick off Thursday night with a reunion dinner for families who have traveled for the festivities. Like with many American celebrations, there is a menu of traditional foods – which includes duck, fish, oranges, dumplings, taro cakes, and dried oysters. (Not exactly what’s on your holiday menus, most likely.)
Then on Friday (first day of the New Year), parents will hand out red envelopes with money inside to children and older family members to wish them a happy and prosperous new year. (The color red is everywhere during the festival because it symbolizes good luck.) Fireworks and Lion Dance parades are popular. (If you happen to live near San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Boston, Chicago, or another city with a Chinatown, you may be able to catch a Chinese New Year parade too.) Celebrations will continue for two weeks, ending with the Lantern Festival on Day 15, when people light all kinds of lanterns to symbolize letting go of the past and looking toward what is ahead.