Having lived in New Orleans for a few years, the music and culture have become a part of me. I listen to brass music and can cook a mean pot of Gumbo, and a bottle of Abita beer always makes me smile. Never do I miss New Orleans more than during Mardi Gras. For those who don't know, Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday" and is the day before Ash Wedesday, the first day of lent. Before giving up things for the forty days before Easter, you should do them in excess, and that is what Mardi Gras is all about: fun, dancing, silly costumes, food and drink. While I would love to spend every Mardi Gras in Louisiana, it's not always possible, but I do always try and celebrate it in whatever way I can. Even when I lived in Japan, I had a Mardi Gras party to celebrate with my friends. This year, I celebrated it with the wonderful people of Marshall, North Carolina with a parade, music, food and drink.
In New Orleans, the Mardi Gras season begins on Twelfth Night, twelve days after Christmas when Christians celebrate Epiphany and the coming of the three kings to visit the baby Jesus. It's also the day you can start finding King Cake in the store and bakeries. In Marshall, Mardi Gras also started with King Cake at the Sweet Monkey Cafe and Bakery. Having eaten a lot of King Cake in my time, I can tell you that this one was excellent and I got it hot out of the oven making it even better.
As people began to assemble, a make-shift band started to form and the music started to flow. As the crowd of a hundred or so people came together, we set out from the bakery and started marching down Main Street. The band played and we all sang along. We stopped at several downtown establishments where the band would play out front for a while.
Finally we made our way into Mad Co Brewery, where another band was playing, Jambalaya was being served up hot and the beer was flowing. I really liked their African Pale Ale. I took mine up onto the back deck which overlooks the French Broad River. It was a pretty great place to hang out and chat with the locals. I was surprised at how many people I talked to there had lived in New Orleans at one point or another and, like me, were happy to find people to celebrate the day with.
Although I'm sure people stayed on into the night there, I took off after the first set. I had other places to be and other things I had to do. It was a great couple of hours though, celebrating in small town North Carolina. I believe we should celebrate whatever we can, as often as we are able. Life should be a celebration of life! In New Orleans, we always used to say life is to be celebrated so let the good times roll. In Marshall. I was happy to roll with them down Main Street with a smile on my face, a beer in my hand, great music in my ears and a warm piece of King Cake in my belly. Thank you Marshall for letting me celebrate with you!