~Cooking Cajun Favorites Makes Mardi Gras Sizzle


Aside from the temperatures, there is plenty that sizzles in the city of New Orleans. From the streets in the summer time to the music in the square almost any night of any given week to the food in dingy diners and white table clothe restaurants alike this city is hot and everyone who spends any amount of time here knows it. Mardi Gras in New Orleans is an entity unto itself. It has taken a hit since Katrina but the people of this great city that have come back and are dedicated to its rebuilding efforts are much like the food and the flare that makes Mardi Gras such a memorable event in this of all cities. 

If you haven't had the pleasure of some of the spicier New Orleans cuisine perhaps we should place a warning label on it, but this is something most visitors simply must find out for themselves. One thing is for certain if the first bite isn't hot enough we can certainly bring up the temperature with some aptly named Louisiana hot sauce to be sure.

Red beans and rice is a great Cajun favorite. While the beans and the rice aren't too terribly hot by themselves when you add a bit of the hot sauce and some andouille sausage to the mix you'll find the temperature inside might be rivaling the warmest of August days in the sunshine. Be sure to have plenty of water close at hand when you begin your dining experience because while you don't necessarily need it with the first bite, chances are good that you will need it by the last. When cooking red beans and rice you'll want to brown the sausage a bit first, leaving the dripping in the pan, then add the beans and prepare to have them simmer all day once they've been brought to a boil. You should season according to your preferences but be sure to add a little bit of salt unless you'll be adding ham in addition to the sausage. You also serve the beans over rice and don't cook the rice and the beans together though some people certainly use less rice than others.

Another thing you want to remember when enjoying Cajun food is that you want to save room for whatever comes next and you do not necessarily want to know what you're eating at all times. Sometimes it is better to wonder in ignorance than to like something and discover the truth. In other words, no matter how good it is, never, ever ask what's in it. 

If you're learning to cook Cajun food, of course, you won't have the option of deniability. You will learn the good, the bad, and the ugly about many favorites. I think I was most dismayed to discover that I was eating turtle soup one day. It was actually quite delicious (though I'm not sure if I was more pleased with the soup or the sherry, which is a common add in for turtle soup, that I found more pleasing) until I discovered what it was. From that point on I was afraid to try anything that looked remotely different from what I was accustomed to eating without first wanting all the details of what was in it. I missed out on a few great dishes I am quite certain and have learned my lesson to some degree. But cooking Cajun food is part science, part art and very important to take the Mardi Gras atmosphere away from the Big easy. Good luck and "let the good times roll."

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