05 March 2011

It's the Mardi Gras Mambo...

...down in New Orleans. Mardi Gras is Tuesday, 8 March 2011.

Carnival began on Twelfth Night and culminates with the Mardi Gras. This weekend is one huge party in New Orleans. Mardi Gras is the day before Ash Wednesday with lots of partying, parades and good food. One of the things I missed most when I moved away from Louisiana was being able to buy King Cake. But not to fear. I learned to make them on my own. Click for recipe.

Even though we moved away from Louisiana, we still celebrate Mardi Gras at our house each year. And I can't begin to count all the King Cakes I have made for school, jobs, and us. Mardi Gras loosely translates into Fat Tuesday. It's a day to feast before the Lenten fast begins on Ash Wednesday. Our menu:

That Community coffee just might get made into Café Brulot before the evening ends.

The colours of the Mardi Gras are purple, green and gold. Purple is for justice, gold for power and green for faith. During Carnival you should always wear the Mardi Gras colours when you are not in costume.

I love setting my table for Mardi Gras.

The dishes I use each year are a striped Post-86 Fiesta known as Retired Bands. The colours of the stripes are sapphire, lilac, chartreuse and juniper. I supplemented the striped dishes with chartreuse and lilac Fiesta and Manhattan depression glass.

To add a little gold, I used my great-grandmother's tea glasses.

Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen, gets her own jewellery.

And a bag of gris-gris.

"Trow me sumpin mista!" ("Throw me something, mister!") is the chant heard when the floats roll by. Several of these throws are from my grandparents' first trip back to Mardi Gras (1964) after their house burned. Others are from the 1970s when I was in college and graduate school.

There is a whole series of children's books about Gaston, the green nosed alligator. One of them is Gaston Goes to Mardi Gras.

We have our own Gaston, who stands guard over an early 70s vintage Zulu coconut.

When the HLCCA had their annual conference in New Orleans, the centrepieces included these white Fiesta tool crocks with a New Orleans decal.

They also made a few commemorative brass doubloons.

Fleur de lis napkin rings admonish, "laissez les bons temps rouler" ("let the good times roll").

That's certainly the motto during "Carnival Time".

There's that coconut again, along with a Fiesta lilac pyramid candleholder.

Zulu Coconuts, aka Gold Nuggets, are the most highly prized throws from all the parades. All year the Zulu Krewe works on painting the coconuts. Most are gold with a black face, though other colours are sometimes used. Back in 1987, due to a few people filing lawsuits saying they had been hurt by the coconuts, the Krewe of Zulu was denied insurance. So that year, the honoured tradition of Zulu Coconuts was suspended. After much lobbying, the Louisiana Legislature passed SB188, aptly dubbed the "Coconut Bill," which excluded the coconut from liability for alleged injuries arising from the coconuts handed from the floats. On July 8, 1988,the bill was signed into law. Gold Nuggets could fly again. My Zulu Coconut is from 1973.

The original "Gold Nuggets" were walnuts that had been painted gold. Sometime in the early 1900s the switch was made to coconuts.

On the table:
Post-86 Fiesta in chartruese, lilac, Retired Bands and the HLCCA New Orleans tool crock.
My great-grandmother's tea glasses.
The original P-86 Fiesta flatware.
Napkins I got in St. Thomas.
Fleur de lis napkin rings were a gift.
The tablecloth is one that I've had for 15 years or so.
Our Gaston was purchased years ago during a trip home to Louisiana from a now defunct filling station.
Throws from various New Orleans Mardi Gras parades.
Voodoo dolls from a voodoo shop in le Vieux Carré (the French Quarter).
Menu Crown is a reproduction of the Krewe of Rex Ball Invitation from 2008.

If you ever get a chance, I highly recommend you "Go to the Mardi Gras".

I will be joining The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sunday, Marty at A Stroll Through Life for TableTop Tuesday, and Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.

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Daphne said...

A festive, personal and educational tablescape, Becky! Well done! Enjoy the party,


Annie said...

What a festive table! Love all the decorations. I'm guessing that you use these from year to year. I should surprise my family this year and create a festive table. We've never done and they'd love it.

Southerncook said...

It's been many years since I celebrated Mardi Gras. It is not celebrated in our area. Your post made me want to head on down to New Orleans where some of my roots are and join in the fun for Fat Tuesday. Your Mardi Gras table is absolutely fabulous!!!!!! Hope you got some good news recently and I believe you leave soon for your trip to France? I know you will have a wonderful time. BTW, got your emails.

{{{HUGS}}}, Carolyn

Anonymous said...

Becky, I love your table - especially the P86 Fiesta! Gorgeous! You're menu sounds scrumptious too!

Susan, one of your hat lady dish sisters!

Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

You have some really fun Fiesta pieces-enjoy Mardi Gras:@)

Sarah said...

Becky, love your bright colorful table. I've never been to Mardi Gras, but I know it is a fun time. Thanks for the mention of Gaston. I'll look for a copy. Love children's books like this.
~ Sarah

The Tablescaper said...

What a fun table. It's so neat that you regularly celebrate Mardi Gras. Love all of the color. Thanks for being a part of Seasonal Sundays.

- The Tablescaper

Marlis said...

Becky, love your dishes! they are perfect for Mardi Gras.. And your decorations are making me squeal with delight.

Pattie @ Olla-Podrida said...

This table is great! I love the purple Fiestaware and all of the Voodoo figures and ornaments. What a fun place to dine.

Snap said...

Happy Mardi Gras! Gaston is great! Pretty and fun post.

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

This is just perfect! You have so many unique and beautiful items for your table. It is so festive and fun...and the menu sounds delicious!

Margie said...

The menu, the table setting, the story, the music, the photography: all fabulous! Thanks for sharing.

Designs on 47th Street said...

Very festive indeed! I enjoyed the table, menu, stories and colors!!
Great job!

laurie @ bargain hunting said...

This is such a fun table! You have so many great Mardi Gras decorations! Your china is perfect for the celebration, and I LOVE those napkin rings. I also learned a lot from reading your post. I didn't know that about the coconuts. How interesting (I can see how they could hurt somebody!) I really enjoyed seeing your fun table. laurie

Miss Char said...

Your table is just screaming Mardi Gras. I love the colors and the crown holding the bottle. Your King cake looks so yummy, wish I had a piece (with the baby of course) this morning. Thanks so much for sharing.

Happy To Be/ Gl♥ria said...

What a fun table you set girl..I loved it..Hugs and smiles Gloria

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

What a beautiful vignette! I just love Mardi Gras. Happy Fat Tuesday!

Have a wonderful day!

Pam @ Our Adventures in Home Improvement said...

Your table is so festive! I hope you had a great Fat Tuesday last night!

I'm here from BNOTP and am so glad I found your blog.

Have a great day.

Alycia Nichols said...

LOVE those napkin rings!!!!!!! Your King's cake looks lucious, too. I don't care for store-bought ones, so you have the right idea to make your own. It looks perfect! And your menu is right on the money!!! Bread pudding....LONG time since I had that! My husband and I honeymooned in New Orleans years ago and I have harbored fond memories of the place ever since. You REALLY get into the spirit of Mardi Gras! Hooray! Hope you partied hard!!!

Rachel said...

Happy Mardi Gras! I love your creative table with all the traditional colors, the purple, the green and the gold! Fab! And a King Cake- never a proper Mardi Gras party until you find the tiny baby!!!!
Visiting from Tablescape Thursday!
~Rachel @ cookscleansplayswithpaper.blogspot.com

Debbie Moore at Slice of Pie Entertaining and Cookbooks said...

This is such an incredible post! Love every piece of it ... but especially love your dinnerware in the perfect Mardi gras colors! Thanks so much for sharing.

Marigene said...

What a fun colorful table...love the lime and lavender together!

A Perfect Setting said...

So neat to be able to use all of your mementos to celebrate on your table! So very special! I love your design!

Kathleen said...

What a fun table! I love all your china, so colorful, perfect for Mardi Gras!

Mid-Atlantic Martha said...

How fun! Thanks for all the information for those of us who don't live in close proximity to Mardi Gras! Love all the fun of your table.

Entertaining Women said...

So neat to hear neat information about Mardi Gras from someone who actually has first hand knowlege...and what a history. I love, love, love that you honor your great-grandmother by continuing to use her ice tea tumblers. Makes me very happy! Aren't family treasures just the very best! Thank you for sharing your charming design. Cherry Kay

Jenny said...

Hi Becky, what a cool table setting. I've never heard of the coconuts before. Gosh, I'm learning all kinds of stuff here.