It’s been a few years since myself or the DH have been to New Orleans during Mardi Gras. But the holiday stays with you. Once you’ve been to (or is that through?) Mardi Gras, it’s part of you forever.
As our lives have changed, we have a new perspective on some parts of the holiday. For example, the traditional masks. New Orleans has been celebrating Mardi Gras for hundreds of years, and is the largest masked party in North America. In the beginning, masks worn during Mardi Gras allowed wearers to escape society and class constraints. Wearing a mask, festival-goers were free to be whomever they wanted to be, and mingle with whatever class they desired . Today, everyone wears masks during Mardi Gras. In fact, float riders are required to wear masks by law.
Any place in New Orleans you can pick up a feather-covered plastic mask for $5-$15. Everyone knows these masks and some are really gorgeous. But these pretty little masks are neither green, nor vegan. So we set out to create a better alternative. Our friends at Local Color Flowers here in Baltimore were equal to the task. They created these outstanding and absolutely amazing masks for us:
On the BG is a mask made of fantail willow, pussy wilow, string of pearls (a plant!) and boxwood leaves. The DH’s mask is made from burning bush, hemlock, pussy willow, string of pearls and camellia. Both of these are created from plants that will dry safely and be preserved in the process. So they can even be worn again! And the masks were built on thin plaster, not plastic. So one day, when we tire of them, we can let the whole arrangement compost. If you’re local to Baltimore/D.C., you can call Ellen, Irene and Carling at Local Color Flowers and have them create a mask for you. The company is totally eco-friendly, ethical and uses only plants that are locally grown. We pretty much adore them and as you can see from the masks, they’re mad talented.
Not local enough for Local Color Flowers? Find a green florist near you to create the perfect vegan/eco mask! Or get crafty and try making your own with plants and supplies from your region.
But it’s not Mardi Gras without some spicy Cajun food! If you’re in New Orleans, you know that all the traditional meals are not vegan friendly. Gumbo, Jambalya, Beignets – none of it is vegan. Dirty Rice is a Cajun classic that is near and dear to my heart. My Uncle Ralph lived in New Orleans much of his life. As a little girl, his visits north were much anticipated because of the handfuls of beads he brought (pictured below – I’ve had them for years!), as well as the colorful stories of the French Quarter. He always made Dirty Rice. When I went vegan 19 years ago, the recipe changed – no longer did it include chicken livers or sausage. Beans and eggplant replace the animal products and give the meal some heft.
You can find this recipe on the Sister Eden blog today! It’s gluten-free, keeps in the fridge well and makes great warm-ups, oh – and if you want to throw some plant-based sausages in there, that would work, too. I’d suggest Field Roast or Tofurky brands. This is a one-pot recipe and will give you a solid base in your belly before you venture out in your new eco-friendly mask to drink Hurricanes and Hand Grenades!
Happy Mardi Gras!!