Mardi Gras' Fat Tuesday will be here Feb 12! The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced to medieval Europe in the 17th century. From the French House of the Bourbons the traditional revelry of ‘Boeuf Gras’, or fatted calf, followed France to her colonies. On March 2, 1699, French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville arrived at a point of land 60 miles south of New Orleans. As that day happened to be the eve of the festive holiday, Bienville and his men named the point of land ‘Pointe du Mardi Gras’. Bienville also established "Fort Louis de la Louisiane" (now Mobile) in 1702; in 1703, that tiny settlement celebrated the very first Mardi Gras in America.
New Orleans was established in 1718 by the apparently-very-busy Bienville, and by the 1730s, Mardi Gras was being celebrated in New Orleans. The early celebrations were not the raucous parades of modern times; the early New Orleans Mardi Gras was celebrated with elegant society balls.
By the late 1830s, street processions of masked revelers in carriages and on horseback became part of the celebration, and in 1872 the colors purple, green and gold were made the official colors of Carnival. These colors were the family colors of visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff, and in order to further honor him the song ‘If Ever I Cease to Love’ – a favorite of the Grand Duke – was made the official Carnival song. Floats began to be constructed in New Orleans in 1973, and in 1875, Louisiana Governor Warmoth signed the ‘Mardi Gras Act’ making Fat Tuesday a legal holiday in Louisiana.
Fat Tuesday is so named because it is the day before Lent, when all the fats in the house are used up in preparation for Lenten period. The tasty butter bean and okra stew recipe shown here is easy to make, nutritious, and a perfect Mardi Gras dish, livening up the cold, dreary February days. Liberty Market can set you up with onions, tomatoes, olive oil, seasoning and rice, all organic and non-GMO.
Butter bean and okra stew
- 1 pound bacon (fake bacon is just fine) chopped
- 1 tablespoon EACH butter and olive oil if using fake bacon
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cups water
- 2 cans (16 ounces each) butter beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 can (12 ounces) tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 package (16 ounces) frozen sliced okra
- Hot cooked rice, optional
In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp; drain on paper towels and reserve 2 tablespoons of drippings. If using fake bacon, fry the fake bacon in a tablespoon butter and a tablespoon olive oil.
Saute the onions until tender (about 3 or 4 minutes) and then stir in the water, beans, tomatoes, tomato paste and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for ten minutes. Add the bacon and cook for ten minutes more.
Stir in the okra, cover, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the okra is tender. This is great served with hot rice and cornbread!
Makes about 10 cups of stew.
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