New Orleans Wind & Food Experience (NOWFE)
Since Hurricane Katrina, Jefferson Parish krewes enjoyed much lower standards, such as three bands per parade. That’s really not many for a full sized Mardi Gras parade. The parish has attempted previously to tighten the requirements, but between the storm and the recession, the new rules were relaxed.
However, a new day has dawned- the Parish Council has raised standards again, and that’s a good thing. For sure, the people of Jefferson are a fun loving group, and deserve more high school bands in their Carnival parades.
Naturally, some krewes are in favor of the upgrades, and some see them as a wrong step. The new rules bring the standards back in line to pre Katrina levels- 10 bands per parade. The council has offered the krewes a major bone with this change, telling them they only need to add one band per year, and they don’t have to do anything for Carnival 2012. From 2013 to 2019, they are required to add a band annually.
I think the Parish Council showed their restraint and wisdom with this move, and I applaud the attempt to upgrade the parades. There’s more to the new rules, and they all seem logical to me. Krewe members are now required to be in costume and masked, and float drivers (?) and horseback riders must abstain from drinking. Aren’t float drivers responsible for the safety of the krewe members on the float he or she is pulling? Isn’t drunk driving already very illegal in all 50 states of the Union?
Security concerns make for another new rule, this one should have been in force for years. All krewes are required to submit a complete list of all participants and their location on the floats, so if any unlawful behavior occurs on the route, they can hold the proper person responsible.
According to Sean Burke, director of the parish’s Citizen Affairs Department, which oversees the parades, his office has received an application for a new krewe for 2012, the first time since Katrina this has occurred.
According to Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng, although the krewes themselves are private, Carnival is a community tradition that needs to be protected lest parades become indistinguishable from other parades, such as the Irish-Italian parade and others, who aren’t regulated very much, and have few live bands.
One other new regulation has to do with music, but not live high school band music, instead the recorded music blaring off of many floats for the entertainment of the riders more than the crowd. Sheng recalled one band who refused to finish the parade because they were being drowned out by the canned music from the float. They aren’t banning recorded music, but it can no longer compete with the band.
I’m in the music biz for decades now, but also dabble in the food arts. I represent some fine well known Louisiana sausage and andouille at some of the really big food and booze benefit shows in NOLA. Just finished up Friday with the Celebration in the Oaks Preview Party in New Orleans in City Park. It’s a huge benefit for City Park. Several thousand folks with good sense pay $100 each for a lot of liquor and super food sampling. We had some great live bands also. We also do the Grand Tastings of NOWFE, the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, which is one day and one evening event. The quality and quantity of attendees, food, liquor and music quality is just fantastic. The locales- Superdome floor, Morial Convention Center, City Park, etc, are just as wonderful.
The Celebration in the Oaks Preview Party takes place in the Christmas decorated portions of the park around the amusement area and the Conservatory. The light set ups are just so pretty and unique, and they add a few new special light set ups annually.
Mardi Gras Favorite Recipes
These recipes are time tested from dozens of years of Mardi Gras usage.
I generally cook somewhat big for Fat Tuesday. That means hot food, BBQ, sushi, high quality deli meats and breads for sandwiches. I always do some combo of really delicious food. I generally bake some Mandel Brot for the big day, and give a loaf or two away, since this dessert makes three loafs at a time.
Mandel Brot (Bread) Recipe – Makes 3 loafs , recipe from my late Mom, Frances Joseph Eidler. Been eating this and making it my whole life.
Definition: Mandelbrot, which literally means almond (mandel) bread (brot), was a popular dessert among Eastern European Jews.
Mandelbrot is similar to Italian biscotti. Perhaps Jews first tasted biscotti in Italy, and then brought the recipe to Eastern Europe and renamed it mandelbrot.
It is likely that Eastern European Jews fell in love with mandelbrot because it made the perfect Sabbath dessert. Since mandelbrot is made with oil (not butter), it was easy to store. And since mandelbrot is pareve, it could be served after festive meat meals.
In a large bowl, add 1 cup sugar, then mix 3 eggs, one at a time, until all are mixed in. Add 1 cup of oil without much flavor of its own like Canola, etc and mix well. Then add a cup of flour (I use unbleached white) and mix well, then another cup of flour, then add 1 t vanilla (I use Mexican vanilla all the time), 1/2 t salt, and 1 t baking powder. Then add another cup of flour, mix well. Add 1 cup of raisins or currants. I use golden raisins a lot of the time. Add 1 cup of mini semi sweet chocolate bits. Get pure semi sweet chocolate bits only! Then add 1/2 cup of flour until the dough is quite stiff and almost makes a ball but not quite.
On a ungreased cookie sheet, separate the dough into three equal sections, and form into loafs, about 1 inch tall and 9 inches long. The dough will settle upon heating a bit, so make the loafs slightly taller by pushing the sides in with both hands until the loafs are no more than 3 inches wide.
Cook at 350 for 35-45 minutes until the loafs start cracking and brown on top, then take out and slice into 1/2 inch slices while still very hot. You can only slice them easily immediately after taking them out of the oven.
Here’s someone else’s picture of someone else’s mandel brot.
Meg Pomeroy Eidler’s Potato Salad
Slice up and boil 3 lbs of potatoes until done, then either peel or not, depending on taste. We usually peel 1/2 and leave peel on the rest. We use Russets or Idahos or little red potatoes. The more uniform the cutting, the more uniform the potato cooking.
Saute 1/2 cup of well chopped onions, also food process or hand chop another 1/2 cup until the pieces are quite small, and chop well 1/2 bunch of fresh scallions well. Add to potatoes with mayo and mustard, salt and pepper to taste. We use Hellman’s Mayo for sure, and the light version is OK.
I grew up on another type of potato salad with vinegar instead of mustard. I gave that up when I moved to NOLA in the mid 1970s. I may try that one sometime in the near future again.
More Mardi Gras favorite recipes to follow soon.