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Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday... Time for Beignets

Paris, France
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443 posts
Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday... Time for Beignets

Before Ash Wednesday and Lent, let's enjoy sweet, sugary, delicious beignets

Mardi Gras on Tuesday the 28th

Let’s celebrate Carnival (or Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday ) and its donuts !

Before Ash Wednesday on March 1st in 2017 and Lent for 40 days (+ 6 Sundays) before Easter Lent is treated as a period of reflection and a time for fasting from food and festivities.

Before Lent’s let’s celebrate Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras, Carnival is your “last chance” to enjoy meat, fat, sweet, therefore donuts and waffles for 46 days !

Some call it Pancake day but in France Pancakes are for Chandeleur (Relevailles, churching) and BEIGNETS are the tradition for Carnival ( doughnuts)

Another Catholic celebration but lost most of its religious origin today.

Carnaval means “Carne levare”, remove meat, fat from your diet. Carnaval is the last day before Lent period 46 days before Easter (movable date).

In Medieval times, it was common to organize tournaments and races on Shrove Tuesday.

February is the Month for Carnivals all over the world : Venice, Rio de Janeiro, New Orleans, Dunkerque North of France, Mayence or Cologne in Germany…

Same as Chandeleur and many others, Mardi-Gras took over some pagan traditions :

getting rid of cold and Winter.

For Chandeleur people consumed the previous year flour. For Mardi Gras, they would finish their Winter stock.

Carnival also had a social role: when people dress up they all look the same, no more difference between rich and poor, noble and peasant.

What do people give up for Lent?

Lent is treated as a period of reflection and a time for fasting from food and festivities.

Lent is traditionally marked with fasting, abstinence and prayer. Most believers tend to give up something until Lent ends to "purify" their bodies.For children it could be something such as chocolate, sweets, television or certain toys, while adults tend to give up things such as alcohol, coffee or smoking. Some households may give up meat, eggs and dairy products.

During Lent, enjoying food is a sin ( See movie “ Le Chocolat” with Juliette Binoche, Johny Depp, Judi Dench taking place in Flavigny sur Ozerain in Burgundy).

A woman and her daughter open a chocolate shop in a small French village that shakes up the rigid morality of the community.

Painting : "Le combat de Carnaval et de Carême" de Bruegel (1559). Fight between Carnival and Lent

In France we have different kinds of “beignets” : merveilles, oreillettes, bugnes, Pets de none ( Nun’s fart ☺)

if some are interested I can publish recipe for Merveilles here...

Phoenix, Arizona
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53,502 posts
1,800 reviews
1. Re: Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday... Time for Beignets

Martin,

Nice piece!

Being from New Orleans, and suddenly finding herself charged with hosting a "holiday party," when she moved to Phoenix, my wife looked around, and saw most worthy venues booked, and then a very, very full social calendar, in the city. She had just taken up the mantel of president, and did not want to let her "throng" down, so she borrowed on her tradition, and in history, and decided on a King's Day celebration, or Epiphany, which is also, in New Orleans, the beginning of Carnival, leading up to Madrid Gras. So, basically Jan 06, but with the latitude to pick the corresponding Saturday, for her fete.

Now, though the official "start" of Carnival, even in New Orleans, that goes unnoticed by most - no parades, no masking, no grand balls, covered in detail, by even the local press. A tiny krewe, the 12th Night Revellers, hold a small, by strict invitation-only ball. One must have their finger firmly on the pulse of the City, or they will miss it.

Historically, it is often a day, in the Catholic religion, when presents are exchanged, and not on Christmas, which is a solemn religious day.

Now, she did break, a bit, from tradition, by introducing the folk here, to some traditional Creole, and Cajun fare, but always did have King Cake, as part of the menu, and contracted with a French chef, to create a "Paris version," which differs from the traditional New Orleans version. In the lower-humidity atmosphere of Phoenix, it was wonderful, and she didn't have to have them shipped from South Louisiana.

In years last, she has flown in chefs from New Orleans, complete with chests full of Louisiana seafood.

She has tried Beignets, but they, like the Louisiana King Cake, take a hit from our dry climate - but she DID have Crawfish Beignets this year. They were more along the lines of the Southern traditional Huahpuppies, than the lovely little fried pastries, which made Café Du Momde famous, in about 1862.

Now, we're always victims of our sin of gluttony, so here's to Carnival, and to Mardi Gras!

Laissez bon ton rouleaux, and merci,

Hunt

Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
53,502 posts
1,800 reviews
2. Re: Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday... Time for Beignets

''Tis also the season for Bock Beer.

Priests and monks discovered that they could brew a hearty beer, to tide them over, during the fasting, which stared with Ash Wednesday. It was like liquid dark bread!

Hunt

Western Ireland...
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for Sligo, Charlottesville, Virginia, County Donegal, Western Ireland
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3. Re: Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday... Time for Beignets

Loved Beignets.... Lent...In the 1970's & 1980's I worked part time for a chocolatier...Can't begin to tell you how busy we were during Lent creating lovely bunnies, lambs, chicks & little ducklings for Easter baskets..

Paris, France
Level Contributor
443 posts
4. Re: Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday... Time for Beignets

Yes Bill Hunt, after Holidays we celebrate Epiphany from January 6th ( I write from, as the Galette is so good that people enjoy till the end of the month) : La Galette des Rois. (previous post on TA)

Then for Chandeleur, we eat Crèpes ( previous post on TA) and Beignets for Carnival, Mardi Gras.

And yes Kesh_Grammy chocolate for Easter.

Interesting to see that so many culinary traditions are linked to religious events and that if many people dropped the religious part, they kept the food part of it even for non Christians ones :-)

And yes you have "beignets" traditons in other countries like churros in Spain. I discussed with my little Gallician and Mauritian tapas place next door and on Tuesday they'll be serving savory Beignets from Mauritius and sweet ones from Gallicia.

Interesting to read about the T° and Humidity issues. What is your wife job Bill ?

Lewes, United...
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for Road Trips
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5. Re: Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday... Time for Beignets

Thank again for an interesting topic, martin.

It's a great reminder to those who read these topics that every country has different customs and habits and ways of celebrating either the same festival, religious event or whatever, even if, in many cases the roots and origins are actually the same or similar.

And also how the interpretation of some things change. I'm very familiar with beignets as served in France, and those served in the USA and they are different. We will be in New Orleans in April and that's considered by many American's as the 'home' of beignets, so I shall be checking out how they are served there, even if it won't be Shrove Tuesday.

SWT

Paris, France
Level Contributor
443 posts
6. Re: Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday... Time for Beignets

Yes Beignets come in different shapes according to regions and countries but I suppose batter are quite similar.

I'd say that what is most similar as US donuts is the "beignet fourré à la confiture" here.

New Orleans : on my bucket list. I have lived in the US and visited quite a lot and even Canada, but I missed Mississippi, New Orleans and the Keys. Hope to be in good shape when I retire from my little BnB business and resume some traveling in US and all of Asia.

Edited: 25 February 2017, 21:00
Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
53,502 posts
1,800 reviews
7. Re: Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday... Time for Beignets

Martin,

My wife runs a large, state-wide healthcare system.

All previous folk, in that role, did another Holiday party, until she broke from that tradition, with Kings' Day. The area did not need another Holiday party.

As for cooking some items, she had to learn techniques, and times/temps, when we moved to Denver. Then, adjust things for altitude, and humidity (or lack thereof), when me moved o the desert.

Some items just do not do well here. One chef is continually struggling with French Bread for his "New Orleans-style" Po-boys. The bread is so important, and the bakeries here just cannot get it right - good, but noticeably not the same. Same for San Francisco Sourdough - never quite right here.

Heck, even my fine cigars are not the same, as in a Caribbean-type climate...

Thank you for the informative article, as always,

Hunt

Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
53,502 posts
1,800 reviews
8. Re: Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday... Time for Beignets

As for New Orleans, you must treat yourself to the culinary scene. So,e dishes will remind you of French-influenced cuisine, but with the inclusion of African, Caribbean and Iberian Spanish influences, they will differ. And then are the Cajun influences, which have crept into some dishes, and finally, just to the West of New Orleans, the full Cajun dining experience. Lots of great food!

Enjoy,

Hunt

Paris, France
Level Contributor
443 posts
9. Re: Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday... Time for Beignets

Thanks Bill. My older son visited the Southern states in November and gave me 2 cookbooks for the Holidays.

I will definitely study them before retiring !

My only concern is the fat content recipes seem to involve ! .

About T°/Humidity factors this is SO important . You should open a new thread about that. It reminded me that when I had a condo in the Alps and was going and cooking often, I had to adapt boiling cooking times for eggs, pasta etc...

Western Ireland...
Destination Expert
for Sligo, Charlottesville, Virginia, County Donegal, Western Ireland
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10. Re: Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday... Time for Beignets

martin,

> >beignet fourré à la confiture << Are they similar to a doughnut filled with preserves (jam)? We had hard krullers / crullers that were quite tasty... Never see them any more..

Kesh_grammy

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