Lent starts tomorrow? I didn’t realize this until I started seeing King Cake everywhere. Why is King Cake even a thing? It looks disgusting. All those clashing sprinkles mixed together kind of make me want to hurl. They are offensive to the eye. I will not tolerate it.
In my earlier years, Lent meant wracking my brain for something to give up for the next 40 days. It couldn’t be anything I’d miss too dearly (so peanut butter was obviously out), but it also couldn’t be too easy (like that one year I told my parents I was going to stop talking to my little sister. I was a real treat.). I usually just declared chocolate off limits and called it good. Not like I ever worked that hard at it. To be honest, it just gave me an excuse to eat as many Reese’s eggs as possible on Easter Sunday.
Really, the most trying part of Lent was the fact that we couldn’t eat meat on Fridays. Meaning every dinner was either pizza or spaghetti, and every lunch was a tuna fish sandwich. Packed in my lunchbox with an icepack. Looking back, I probably should have told my parents I was giving up tuna, because that is just asking for foodborne illness.
Alas, my days of religious observation are long gone, and now the start of Lent is just another excuse to eat a lot and drink even more. Mardi Gras, son!
Now, I’ve never been to Mardi Gras. I’ve never even been to New Orleans. The closest I’ve been to New Orleans is watching “The Real World” and reading A Streetcar Named Desire no less than three times throughout my university career (for the record, still ambivalent). This is a true tragedy, as I really, really need authentic gumbo and beignets in my life.
But, well, gumbo entails making a roux. I don’t think I have the fortitude for that. And beignets require frying. Frying while drinking doesn’t seem advisable. What else is NOLA known for? Pralines, apparently. I don’t know, I saw it on Wikipedia and jumped all over that shit.
Problem. I don’t really like pralines that much. I mean, they’re pretty good, but they’re also tooth-achingly sweet and they involve boiling sugar, which requires a candy thermometer, which I do not have.
Next best thing? Pecan squares. No candy thermometer necessary, and they’re quick enough for my impatient ass, which is really saying something. I used this recipe, subbing dark brown sugar for the light brown. I didn’t have light brown. And is there really that much of a difference? Ima say no. I also added half a teaspoon of vanilla. I don’t know. I add vanilla to everything. Oh, and I waited way more than 30 minutes to cut them because I didn’t want them to crumble or otherwise turn ugly. Ugly food is just the worst (hence the irrational King Cake hatred).
Now, they may not be the most authentic Mardi Gras food, but, um, they’re good, and I don’t care. The subtle saltiness of the crust helps to cut the sweetness of the pecan filling a smidge, but they’re still super sweet. Like baby pieces of pecan pie without the enormous pain in the ass that is making pie crust. Ugh. That would be far too much effort for a holiday that celebrates flashing strangers.
Not content to just eat myself into a food coma, I also looked up classic New Orleans cocktails. The first thing that popped up? A HURRICANE. I’m being serious. This seems inappropriate on many levels, but being the good lush I am, I will not question it.
So in honor of Mardi Gras, I will be getting bombed on hurricanes, eating pecan squares, and trying to keep my shirt securely on my person. Sounds about right.