The legacy of Mobile’s Mardi Gras society and the denizens of Carnival are not the same. While a few hundred thousand people flock to the parades during the course of Carnival, many of the populace avoids it all together. To the many inhabitants that do participate, the parades are Mardi Gras. However, there are a few dozen or so who actually run Carnival, as we know it. These leaders have a lineage going back before Mobile even existed. Kings, Queens and their royal monarchs, are the heredity that rules Mardi Gras. The adage, ‘you have to be born into it’, runs true here. These families have ruled over the season since 1872 when Daniel E. Huger first reigned as Carnival King Felix I, and a carnival association was established. Ethel Hodgson ruled as Mobile's first Mardi Gras queen in 1893.
To the subjects and citizens of Mobile, going to the parades, the many balls and dances that occur is just fine and to us, is all we need to enjoy Carnival. We like to holler and shout, dance and ham-it-up along the streets making merriment just as Michael Kraft did back in 1830. A Pennsylvania Dutch transplant, he led the first Mardi Gras parade in the Americas. That is our heritage.
Today, everyone can enjoy the history of Mardi Gras through documentation at Mobile Carnival Museum and its many galleries, including the Queen's Gallery which houses 18 magnificent outfits -- gowns, trains, jewels -- worn by queens of carnival over a period of 30 years. Also on display is the attire of a 1920's flapper queen, as well as costumes of several jesters of well-known parading societies. The Museum of Mobile's collections also include original Mardi Gras art and posters by various area artists, doubloons, tableaux designs, and ball invitations.
Gammon, Jambon or Ham, whatever you want to call it, when cured and seasoned with spices, this cut of pork is the perfect choice for Mardi Gras eating. The following recipe is a great way to prepare your ham. Sliced thin, it is great served many ways with the most favored being quick, finger style sandwiches. Serve it with small dinner rolls, split croissants, mini party bread or thin slices of breads like crusty French or rustic Italian. Condiments are varying but it is especially good with Creole mustard.
- 1 -14 to 18 pound whole smoked ham
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 tablespoons Spanish paprika
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
- 1 cup brown sugar
Cut away the skin from the ham leaving 1/8-inch of fat. Score the ham all over with 1/4-inch cuts. Mix the black pepper, cayenne, onion powder, paprika together and rub over all sides of the ham. Sprinkle with the oregano and crushed red pepper pressing to adhere to the ham. Rub all over with the brown sugar. Wrap in heavy foil sealing completely. Place in a preheated 325 degree F. oven and bake for 2 hours. At this point, you can finish cooking it two ways: turn off heat and let set in oven overnight or reduce heat to 225 degrees F. and cook another 2 hours. If using the latter method, let rest before slicing.
Note: Another method in cooking a ham is 18 minutes per pound in a 325 degrees F.oven. The internal temperature should be around 148 degrees F. when done.