Fat Tuesday is so named because it marks the final day of indulgence -- namely, eating, drinking, and general revelry -- before Lent begins.
But one of the great ironies of the holiday is that the actual food and drink traditionally associated with Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras celebrations are over-the-top rich, meaty, and, well, fatty -- which makes it all the more fun and decadent.
Let's take a closer look at the "fat" part of "Fat Tuesday." There's no turning back now ...
First up are the traditional sandwiches: There's the muffaletta (above) towered with the artery-clogging combination of meats, cheese, and a spicy olive salad. And who can forget the po'boy with layers of fried oysters, roast beef, gravy, and shrimp layered on crusty French bread. Full yet?
Ask anyone from Louisiana, and they'll tell you that thick and hearty soups and stews are a huge part of the Mardi Gras festivities. There's etouffee, which is a Cajun dish of smothered meat or seafood; jambalaya, which often features several meats including ham, sausage, and chicken; and, of course, gumbo, which is a thick stew of meat and seafood. All of these have a rich broth; none skimp on the calories.
Deep fried dough often makes an appearance at Fat Tuesday foodie festivities. Paczki are rich Polish doughnuts, topped with powdered sugar or icing, and filled with custard. Beignets are very similar and typically have a maple or fruit filling.
It wouldn't be a Mardi Gras celebration without free-flowing cocktails. The traditional beverages served -- New Orleans Hurricanes, Bahama Mamas, and Mai Tais -- are chock-full of sugary sweetness and tropical fruit flavors.
Finally, there's the celebratory King Cake. The traditional dessert (with the plastic baby inside) began simply but over the years has become a sweet monstrosity -- braided brioche dough filled with fruit and sometimes cream cheese frosting with colored sprinkles on top. Between that and the cocktails, you'll be at your sugar limit for the year.
What are you doing to celebrate Fat Tuesday?
Image via jeffreyw/Flickr