The List: Five Dishes to Celebrate Mardi Gras in South Florida

It's that time of year again when thousands of drunken college students, fratdults (grown-up frat boys), and creepy mustached men with fists full of beads and a penchant for buxom drunken girls take to the streets of New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras! Mardi Gras (March 8) is celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the day before Lent season commences. What better way to kick off 40 days and nights of prayer and attrition than by making a public spectacle of yourself, drinking copious amounts of neon-green alcohol, and rounding out the night by puking in your undies?  

All of these references may conjure fond memories (or give you one more reason to get on your knees), resulting in your hopping on the next thing smoking to the Big Easy. But in the event that you can't make it to N'awlins this year, we've got you covered. Check out these classic New Orleans dishes for Mardi Gras or any time you get a hankering for the Crescent City. Bring your appetite, and don't forget your light-up pimp goblet!

1. Abita Beer
If you're looking to drink but not to the point of blacking out (again), try knocking back a few Abita brews. Abita beer is the

official beer of the Big Easy. The Abita Brewing Co., located in Abita

Springs, Louisiana, brews favorites such as Purple Haze, Turbo Dog, and

Fall Fest. It also produces harvest beers such as strawberry, pecan,

and Satsuma (think refreshing citrus) according to the season. Abita

strawberry beer is in stores now for a limited time.

Get Your Fix!
To celebrate Mardi Gras, World of Beer in Coconut Creek is offering

a special on Louisiana-brewed Abita Beer as well as special party giveaways.

The Promenade at Coconut Creek

4437 Lyons Road, Ste. E-101

2. Gumbo

As ubiquitous in N'awlins as a Girls Gone Wild

production crew, gumbo is a thick soup that usually contains vegetables and meat or

seafood. There is a variety of gumbos to indulge in -- shrimp, sausage,

herb, and chicken. Don't be fooled by shoddy impostors! Any gumbo worth

its salt must contain rice and be thickened with a dark roux, a

mixture of browned flour and fat (usually butter or oil).

Get Your Fix!

into Chez Porky's in Pompano Beach. This Cajun crowd pleaser is home to

one of the finest chicken gumbos this side of the bayou. In addition to

gumbo, Chez Porky's also dishes out other Louisiana classics like red

beans and rice and fried okra.

105 SW Sixth St., Pompano Beach

3. The Muffaletta


knocking back a few Turbodogs and a Hurricane or two, there will come a

time when you'll need to quell the angry sea of alcohol and stomach

acid that is sloshing around in your belly. When it comes to late-night dining, there are the usual suspects -- tacos, burgers, and pizza -- and then there is the

mother of all meat sandwiches, the muffaletta.

The muffaletta  (pronounced muff-a-lott-uh or moof-a-letta) is the mother of

all Italian sandwiches, featuring items such as ham, salami, cappicola, Provolone or Swiss, and olive salad that is served on soft, muffaletta

bread (think soft ciabatta bread). The olive salad mixture varies from

restaurant to restaurant and can make or break the sandwich. This is

definitely a dish to share with your half-naked, bead-clad friends -- one

muffaletta, also affectionately called a "muff" (insert joke here), is large enough to share with at least two or

three people. We guarantee you'll love it!

Get your Fix!

Muffaletta Sicilian Sub House in Coconut Creek has "Lupo's Original,"

which is like a traditional New Orleans muffaletta. Its version has

ham, salami, mortadella, Provolone, and, of course, olive salad. A

lagniappe (that's Cajun for bonus) for you -- Muffaletta delivers

food to World of Beer, so you can double down and enjoy two New Orleans

classics in one night. You're welcome!

4437 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek

4. The Poor Boy

If the

thought of olive salad mixed with several hand grenades seems like it

will end in a lengthy porcelain-god prayer session, then a classic New Orleans poor boy might be more your speed. This simple French-bread sandwich is

composed of lettuce, tomato, remoulade (think tartar sauce with attitude), and

typically seafood such as shrimp, catfish, or oysters. Poor boy

sandwiches are credited to the Martin brothers of New Orleans, who

created the sandwich to help feed striking street-car

operators in the late 1920s. During the Great Depression, poor boys

became a staple for families forced to live on a shoestring. Today poor

boys are a favorite for locals and shameless, bead-clad Mardi Gras

enthusiasts like yourself (don't worry; your secret is safe with us!).

Get Your Fix!

Baby Crawfish and Cajun House in Lauderhill has an expansive assortment

of poor boys -- shrimp, oyster, catfish, crawfish. The restaurant also

serves a variety of Cajun delights like sautéed alligator, jambalaya,

and Cajun boiled blue crab. On Tuesdays, fat or otherwise, the bar has

$4 Smirnoff specials. Bon appetit!

4587 N.University Drive, Lauderhill
954-749- 5627

5. King Cake

Warning! Do not try king cake unless you have dental insurance and/or someone in your posse who can perform the Heimlich maneuver!

After a night getting your Charlie Sheen on, you may start to fade fast. King cakes are a Mardi Gras staple that will give you a sugar high to keep you going for the rest of the night. Traditionally king cakes are served during the Christmas season; however, the good people of New Orleans have made it a Mardi Gras must. This ring-shaped, coffee-cake impostor is either plain or filled with cream or fruit, then slathered with white frosting and garrishly decorated with Carnival colors (green, gold, and purple). A miniature baby figurine is inserted into the cake, and the lucky devil who has the baby in his piece of cake has to buy the king cake for next year's Mardi Gras festivities. Bon chance!

Get Your Fix!
King Cake Headquarters in New Orleans ships king cakes all over the United States. They have more than 20 cake fillings to choose from, including cookies and cream, blueberry cream cheese, and coconut. Their cakes are decorated either traditionally (see photo above), or they also have specialty designs like the popular "Who Dat" King Cake, which is black and gold (New Orleans Saints' colors) and includes a masquerade mask.
On Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, the bakery offers two-day shipping.

Visit kingcakeheadquarters.com.

Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Facebook and on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB.

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