Most people probably think of New Orleans or Rio de Janeiro when they think of Mardi Gras, but I think of donuts. It’s actually a running joke between my husband and I that I made up the tradition of eating donuts on Mardi Gras just to have an excuse to eat some. Ha! As though I need an excuse to eat fried dough. In the area of Pennsylvania in which I grew up, there were enough people of Pennsylvania Dutch background that Fasnacht Day was a pretty common way of celebrating Mardi Gras. Fasnachts, for the uninitiated, are an absolutely delicious type of donut. Our next door neighbor brought us a batch of her homemade donuts every year on Fat Tuesday and I still haven’t found a recipe that comes close to hers. And the Pennsylvania Dutch aren’t the only ones to celebrate this way– the Polish celebration of Paczki Day also centers around the eating of donuts.
Of course, there are lots of fine ways to celebrate Mardi Gras without donuts (although why would you want to?). Books like My New Orleans: the Cookbook: 200 of My Favorite Recipes & Stories From My Hometown or Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link’s Louisiana have traditional cajun recipes to help you celebrate in New Orleans style. If you choose a more intoxicating kind of celebration, Mr. Boston: Official Bartender’s and Party Guide will give you step-by-step instructions on how to mix a Hurricane. And we even have books on vegan celebrating, such as Quick and Easy Vegan Celebrations: Over 150 Great-Tasting Recipes Plus Festive Menus for Vegantastic Holidays and Get-Togethers All Through the Year.