Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mardi Gras, Northern style

I went to two Mardi Gras parties yesterday, one the annual pancake breakfast that the library school where I work puts on, which is beloved and appreciated by the students (free food, what's wrong with that?!) , but naturally pretty dorky in its librarian way. The other one was a chocolate Mardi Gras party, put on by Mark from Wisconsin Cooks and Underground Food Collective. That one was a lot hipper, even though I was only there for the awkward, early, phases of the party. There was a delicious light chicken gumbo, make by Mark, 18 gallons, I thought I heard, and lots of chocolate things of all types - I had a limoncello-thyme truffle that tasted good but had some texture problems - bits of lemon pulp, or maybe thyme stems embedded in the smooth chocolate. I also had a banana hunk coated with chocolate - Terese's recommendation - and that was very good. I got to talk to the curator/owners of the mustard museum in Mount Horeb, Barry Levenson and his wife - they had recently taken a trip to the Silver Spring horseradish factory in Eau Claire WI to see kosher for Passover horseradish production. All a lot more fun than the pancakes-from-a-mix at the breakfast, and I actually did not even eat one this year, since we had a slight batter shortage - a stored box of the mix had gotten bugs, and I think the School's director bought all that the closest supermarket had on its shelves - we had a fire drill right before the breakfast, and we all had to vacate the building, so prep time was decreased. Still, I don't think anyone went hungry, there was just enough. I did not sample my king cakes, either, though I got good reviews.

Maybe, self-righteous and bleeding-heart librarian-ish as this idea might be, there is something good in carrying on New Orleans traditions, outside New Orleans, in these post Hurricane Katrina times, when it seems certain that we live in a country where, no matter the well meaning intentions of its citizens, our government is willing to let a major city experience a catastrophic storm without any serious relief.

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