Carnival means many things to many people.
It was originally a many people. It was originally a pagan rite, then religious, now simply fun, with costumes, floats, crowds of people and ever present foods.
Hand foods, street foods and restaurant foods — the food has become a classic combination of French, Spanish and Choctaw Indian. The abundance of native foods such as game, fresh and salt water fish, oysters, crayfish, shrimp and conch make for a delightful array of dishes.
The jambalaya, bouillabaisse, and gumbos are most closely related to the Black and West Indian cultures, relying heavily on onions, pepper, garlic, green peppers, spices and crushed hot peppers as seasonings. The use of file, made from dried sassafras leaves, textures and flavors food but disintegrates in the usual long cooking. It should be added at the last minute of cooking.
Okra and rice are found in a great many dishes. Ground beef is used in meat patties, where hot pepper is added in varying degrees. Another feature of the foods is the combination of meats and poultry and seafood in one dish.
These Carnival dishes rank with Europe’s finest cuisines. Fish and chicken, cooked in paper bags, retain the most delicate flavor in these dishes. The inventiveness of the native and Black cooks, who introduced some of their traditional foods and herbs, has given us an extremely varied and piquant cuisine.
Whether at the outdoor stalls or in the finer restaurants you can find foods to sate your appetite in any Carnival city. We have included four dishes, with a Caribbean flavor. The ingredients are easy to obtain everywhere. The first recipe is lots of fun and can be used for Sunday Brunch and for large gatherings. It can serve six or sixty without losing anything in the transition. It can be served with a tossed salad of fresh greens and corn bread seasoned with prepared poultry seasoning.