Mardi Gras has come and gone. Although Fat Tuesday marked the official end of Carnival, Mardi Gras season and the beginning of Lent, there are still some foods that can scream celebration in a time of solemnity (and if you’re still looking to get your drank on, check out this Mardi Gras article from Spoon-NYU). King cake is the highlight of the holiday, with its gold, purple and green sprinkles that conceal a hidden prize. According to tradition, if you find the plastic baby figurine in your slice, it’s your job to host the party next year!

New Orleans

Photo by Sarah Lossing

Chez Alice in Palmer Square makes king cakes only twice a year; a galette des rois king cake for Epiphany on January 6th, and a traditional Mardi Gras King Cake for the week of Mardi Gras. For more information about Chez Alice Gourmet Cafe and Bakery, visit their website at

Even if you’re giving up sweets for Lent, you can still keep the spirit of Mardi Gras alive! Gumbo, jambalaya and etouffee are 3 Cajun classics that can help you get in the spirit of New Orleans without overindulging. All three include vegetables, Cajun/Creole seasoning and a mix of chicken, sausage and seafood (usually shrimp or crawfish). What’s the difference between them, you may ask? Here’s a quick breakdown of the three similarly looking but differently tasting dishes:

  • Gumbo- the only soup of the trio. Served with rice, but not cooked with it (keep that in mind for jambalaya)
  • Jambalaya- more of a stew than gumbo, similar to a paella. This dish is cooked with rice in the same large pot.
  • Etouffee- whereas the other two are more liquid than rice, etouffee has more of a sauce than a stew. It usually has a main protein, such as crawfish, along with sauce and rice, but all are cooked separately.
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Etouffee by Craig Simpson on Flickr

For more New Orleans, celebratory inspiration, check out these recipes lists from Southern Living and the Food Network. Channel the spirit of NOLA as you enter the season of Lent with all your Mardi Gras favorites!