The skinny on Fat Tuesday


— In a town where purple, green and gold beads drip from high balconies and the world-famous Bourbon Street swallows every patron who stumbles in, Steamboat appears the antithesis.

But Steamboat bears many of the same opportunities, sans flashing, that a town like New Orleans, which revels in the money and tourists that come to visit and experience the culture and lifestyle, offers.

1 pound chicken leg quarters, cut up 2 tablespoons butter 1/4 cup onion, finely diced 1/4 cup celery, finely diced 1/4 cup green pepper, finely diced 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1 1/2 cups chicken broth 3 green onion, chopped In large saucepan, warm butter over medium heat. Add chicken, brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove chicken from pan to plate; pour off all but 2 tablespoons oil. Add onion, celery and green pepper to pan; saute until softened, about 6 minutes. Add salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, basil and thyme; saute 1 minute. Stir in flour and cook, stirring, until browned, about 2 minutes. Very gradually, add broth, stirring to blend. Bring to a simmer. Return chicken to pan; add green onions, keeping etoufee at a simmer. Reduce heat to low; cook for 10 minutes more. Serve over hot rice. From the National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association

For Mardi Gras 2001, Steamboaters can drink Hurricanes and eat crawfish while fantasizing about the "other" city that doesn't sleep.

Matt and Lizzie Larock, owners of Old Town Pub & Restaurant, said their second annual Mardi Gras celebration will be off the hook.

"Last year was a huge night, we had no music but still had a packed house all night long," Matt said.

After learning from last year's Mardi Gras party which was thrown together at the last minute this year Old Town Pub will offer a full cajun menu starting at 5:30 p.m. and New Orleans-style jazz and zydeco music by Worried Men at 9:30 p.m.

Matt said customers need not worry if they don't have Mardi Gras attire, servers and bartenders will be covered in beads for everyone.

While beads may be few and far between in Steamboat, Sandy Pugh, owner of Celebrations party store, said she has stocked up with beads, masks, balloons and other Mardi Gras favors.

Pugh said she has been planning parties since 1992. "Mardi Gras has become really big here," Pugh said.

"If you're looking for a theme, this is the one. It's just getting bigger," Pugh said.

In tradition with the purple, green and gold colors that signify Mardi Gras, a piece of history always follows.

The King of Carnival in 1872, Rex, chose purple to connote justice, green to mean faith and gold to stand for power.

In a city that has acquired a reputation for drinking and parading, New Orleans holds a unique celebration that celebrates food, drink, colorful costumes and a history most people don't know about.

The King Cake, for instance, was served on Kings' Day, Jan. 6, to worship the Three Wise Men, also known as The Feast of the Epiphany.

In New Orleans, a figure representing the Christ child is baked inside the cake. Whoever receives the piece of cake with the child, must provide the King Cake for the next Mardi Gras season.

The cake is a sweetened yeast bread with a sprinkling of colored sugar. Bakeries in New Orleans report selling 4,000-5,000 King Cakes during the celebration.

Mardi Gras, also known as Carnival, is a celebration of the last day to feast, hence Fat Tuesday, before the beginning of Lent. Since Ash Wednesday follows Fat Tuesday, the climax of the feast always is scheduled 47 days preceding Easter.

During the early 1700s, the French in New Orleans hosted private masked balls that the Spanish banned when they took over. Not until the mid-1800s did Americans allow the balls to continue when costumed revelers walked the streets in the first parades.

In order to stop the reversal of the ban, the Mystick Krewe of Comus was formed by six high-class New Orleanians. With planning, organization and management, the celebrations could continue.

When the Grand Duke of Russia was to visit in the late 1800s, the Krewe created The Krewe of Rex, named king for the day.

Although the history may be long, dry and probably boring, the thousands of people that parade the streets and the millions of dollars spent on each year's party needs recognition and acceptance.

The folks in 'N'awlins' know how to do it right.


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