Tuesday, February 12

How Far Would You Go for Gumbo?

Photo by Mark Peterson, courtesy of history.com/CORBIS
As you've probably noticed from the Tweets, Facebook updates, and Instagram pics posted by friends who are having a much wilder Tuesday than you are (no, we're not bitter), today is Mardi Gras.

In New Orleans, beads are the big prize. But what about in Cajun Country? There, groups of friends and family perform a traditional courir de Mardi Gras, where they go from house to house on foot or horseback, collecting the ingredients for a community gumbo. At each house, the costumed participants ask for chickens, rice, vegetables, sausage, or money, usually performing a song or dance to sweeten the request.

If you want to learn more about the Cajun Mardi Gras festivities, check out Dance for a Chicken, a 1993 documentary by Pat Mire. Watch it here:

Finally, for a small taste of Cajun Mardi Gras with a big dose of fantastic Cajun music, watch Dry Wood, filmmaker Les Blank's 1973 documentary about the Cajun fiddler Bois Sec Ardoin and his family. As an added bonus, Dry Wood includes some scenes of a traditional boucherie, or hog killing. You can almost taste the head cheese!