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Down in New Orleans, “Mardi Gras” applies to more than just the day before Lent: the festivities start on January 6, then really get going a full two weeks before Fat Tuesday on February 24. This leaves revelers in the Big Easy (and elsewhere) plenty of time to celebrate with our Cajun-style menu. The following dishes can be dressed up for a Carnival dinner or served as a laid-back bayou buffet. The prep work is a snap. All that’s left is to choose some Cajun or jazz tunes; decorate the table in purple, green, and gold (official Mardi Gras colors that symbolize justice, faith, and power); then kick back and laissez les bon temps rouler! (That’s Cajun-French for “let the good times roll.”)