Eat for Mardi Gras, Give It Up For Lent

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They don't call it Fat Tuesday for nothing. Or Fat Monday, for that matter. We may as well stuff ourselves silly today and tomorrow, because you know what follows is a big long drag: Lent, which promises to zap all the fun from our lives for the following 40 days of fasting and prayer. 

To usher in this bizarre Catholic season, we have some suggestions for Mardi Gras meals, the memory of which ought to help get you through six beer-less  (or butter-less, or linzer torte-less) weeks. To take it from the top:

Cafe Boulud in Palm Beach, chef Daniel Boulud's Florida showcase, is presenting a Mardi Gras menu this week that includes oysters Bienville, poached redfish, and gumbo, a line-up of dishes so refined and delicious you'll seriously wonder if you ever need to eat anywhere else, ever. Maybe you just need to give up other restaurants for Lent, right? In fact, if you gave up fast food lunches for the next 40 days, you'd save enough to pay the bill for a single dinner at Boulud, and believe it, you wouldn't miss those Macmeals for a nanosecond.

Creolina's Dixie Takeout, a long-running Lauderdale institution, moved to State Road 7 in Davie last year. But their jambalaya, crawfish etouffe, red beans and rice, and cajun combo are as rib-sticking as ever, and they all squeak in under $11. Add in a side of fried green tomatoes or okra, scarf down the free corn bread or cheese biscuits, and the extra layer of fat will warm you through your first Lentish week.

Mudbugs are in season at Rosey Baby in Sunrise, where the Louisiana crawfish is shipped in weekly, thrown into a giant pot along with a mess of corn and potatoes, and served in one-, two- and five-pound buckets. For foolproof instructions on how to extract every morsel of goodness from these spicy little suckers, click here.

Our economic times are exactly right for a po' boy resurgence, a sandwich that manages to make a little bit of this and that go a long way. Shuck n' Dive Cajun Cafe stuffs them with andouille, Mississippi catfish, soft shell crab, or "Cajun injected pork roast." Pair with fried pickles and follow with bread pudding.

Kilmo will certainly be working his usual magic with our native saurian this week at Alligator Alley: dipping gator tail bites into his scrumptious secret batter, serving the ribs barbecued, filetting up gator steak to serve with szechuan sauce, cilantro, and lime, or serving it a la Buffalo with blue cheese dip. This week, sink your teeth into the best bar food in Lauderdale with background music by the Root Shakers (tonight), the Pastorius brothers (Wednesday) or the Alligator Alley Allstars (Friday). 

Tomorrow: Foods you really DON'T have to give up for Lent, no matter what your momma says.

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