Chad Thilborger, the author of the New Orleans family cookbook “A Whole Heap of Goodness,” said celebrating Mardi Gras is more about reveling in your own individual style more than a rigorous set of rules. Fat Tuesday is February 12, the last day of the Carnival season falling the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Colorful parades, food, spirits, and dancing are all parts of the month-long festivities.
“As a New Orleans native, Mardi Gras is the time of year when we let everything go and celebrate life, love, and family,” said Thilborger. “Even though we are miles away from the Big Easy, South Florida residents can share in the excitement by having Mardi Gras-style parties at home. Always remember, this jamboree is about rejoicing in your own particular style.”
Thilborger offers the following suggestions for planning a perfect and delicious Mardi Gras fete in your home:
1. “Don’t throw out or pack away those Christmas decorations. Holiday colors are red, gold, and green. Simply replace the red with purple on your garlands and other decorations. Now you have the colors of Mardi Gras: purple, green and gold.”
2. “The beauty of Mardi Gras is there is no such thing as excess. You can’t over decorate or over do anything. It’s about letting everything go and having a whole heap of fun.”
3. “Traditional festival food is not expensive. New Orleans cuisine was created by common folk using the everyday ingredients available to them. What makes the dishes wonderful are the warmth and love that go into creating them.”
4. “You can invent fun and colorful cocktails that make up the rainbow of Mardi Gras. You could make a clear colored King Cake Martini with cake-flavored vodka, and cinnamon schnapps. You could make a purple cocktail with Three Olives purple vodka and club soda. A green drink could be an appletini. For gold you could make a Pineapple Upside Down Cake with cake-flavored vodka and pineapple juice. Always remember to make lots for your friends.”
5. “Fried chicken goes with everything! Don’t be afraid to fry up a whole batch for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night snacks.”
6. “Bake a rum cake. You can make it days in advance as it only gets better with time.”
A 6’4” man from New Orleans with roots deep in the heart of Cajun Country, with a booming voice and even bigger laugh, people always describe Chad Thilborger as “larger than life.” Thilborger recently released his new cookbook, “Whole Heap of Goodness,” which serves up more than just bountiful recipes celebrating his Louisiana roots. Filled with 256 pages of brunch ideas, appetizers, soups, entrées and sides, and desserts, “Whole Heap’s” signature recipes include beignets; crab stuffed mushrooms; roasted asparagus, garlic and potato soup; crazy Cajun fettuccini; boulette fricassee; and bread pudding. The book also shares stories of how Maw Maw, Aunt Annie and other relatives influenced his home and personal styles, as well as his appreciation of food, drink, family and friends.
The cookbook sells for $24.95 is available at www.awholeheap.com. (www.awholeheap.com)