Since Mardi Gras season is here, we asked Martie Duncan, Chief Party Thrower at MartieKnowsParties.com and finalist on Season 8 of “Food Network Star,” for some advice on how to throw the perfect Mardi Gras party with Alabama Gulf Seafood. Here’s what she had to say.
Break out the beads, it’s Mardi Gras! You may not have the parades, floats and crowds of New Orleans where you live but you can still have the best of Mardi Gras right at home—the music, the food and all the fun! Hosting a Mardi Gras party is painless because all the components are easy to find or make. I planned my party in just one day. You can too, even if you’ve never been to “Nawleans.”
Many people don’t know that Mardi Gras actually started here in Alabama. South Alabama cities like Mobile, Dauphin Island and Daphne have weeks of Mardi Gras festivities, parades and balls.
Mardi Gras Menu
Since Alabama coastal cities and towns have a rich seafood heritage, the celebration of Mardi Gras centers around the food—the seafood, specifically. Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Gumbo, Chargrilled Oysters, Shrimp Creole and Jambalaya are always found on Lower Alabama Mardi Gras menus, which are loaded with fresh Alabama Gulf Seafood. Because traditional Mardi Gras recipes like Gumbo or a Shrimp Boil can easily be made in large quantities, this is one of the best party themes for a big crowd, no matter what time of year it is.
One of the easiest items to make for a Mardi Gras party is a Muffeletta sandwich: a round loaf of Italian bread sliced in half, scooped out, then slathered with a thick layer of olive salad and stuffed until overflowing with several different meats and cheeses. Slice it and serve big wedges.
If the party is early, I always make a Bloody Mary bar with tons of add-ins, a variety of hot sauces and a variety of seafood swimmers so guests can customize their Bloody Mary. If the party is in the afternoon or evening, opt for a signature cocktail like a Hurricane or a French 75. Make a big batch and store them in the freezer so they get slushy. Remove them 20 minutes or so prior to serving. If you use a large drink dispenser, guests can serve themselves and you keep bartending duties to a minimum.
Mardi Gras decorations are even easier than the food. Balloons, string lights, feathered masks, and beads are inexpensive and readily available in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold at party stores and big box retailers. If you have time, order authentic Mardi Gras decorations, masks and supplies from Toomey’s Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama.
Jazz, blues, and the unique sounds of Zydeco are a big part of any Mardi Gras celebration. Make a playlist of traditional favorites and don’t forget New Orleans native sons like Harry Connick, Jr., Aaron Neville, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and Wynton Marsalis.
Now you’re all set to join the world’s largest party from the comfort of your own home. No middle seat or layover in Atlanta required. And as they say in the French Quarter, laissez les bons temps rouler—let the good times roll!
Photo courtesy of Kristin Brenemen on Flickr.