I ‘get it,’ now, the gumbo tradition of Mardi Gras | The Daily Iberian


It seems there is a tradition here in South Louisiana that every house have a pot of Mardi Gras gumbo simmering on the stove on Fat Tuesday. This ritual is linked to Le Courir de Mardi Gras (Mardi Gras Run) that came from the back country — something totally unlike the pageantry and parades seen in the cities. This maintains its French pronunciation because of its place of origin, the French countryside. It is the Mardi Gras my mom grew up knowing, the “real Mardi Gras” as she said — masked men on horseback and in costumechasing chickens that would end up in a communal pot of gumbo. That tradition, along with many others, was buried deep within her but it was not passed on. I do remember stories she tried to tell us about the “Mardi Gras” on horseback riding through Mamou and Ville Platte, “stealing” chickens and wearing mask that hid their identity and partial intoxication; it was, after all, Fat Tuesday and the next day Lent began and the merriment would stop abruptly at midnight within these strict Catholic communities. It was all so steeped in tradition and creed — the masks, the flying feathers, the horses, and the kids in the country witnessing this amazing and mystic troupe of riders. Imagine the thrill and wonderment, there was no FB, TV, or Instagram to alert them or refer to — just masked men appearing in the early morning fog on Mardi Gras day running through fields and yards chasing chickens at the direction of the Capitaine.

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