Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mardi Gras Madness and a Hoodoo Movie Review

We expect a lot from our kids.  We demand good behavior in church, kneeling up straight for evening prayers, and speaking up when saying the Rosary.  We keep Lent (and Advent).  We fast and abstain when the Pope says we're sposta.  And all that's great.  It's its own reward yadda, yadda, yadda.  But there's another side to our Catholic faith -- the fun stuff.  And we do all that, too.  Fat Tuesday is one of the most popular days of the year in our house.

Breakfast starts with our own version of a King Cake.  I usually make my grandmother-in-law (is that a thing?)'s coffee cake recipe, but anything cake-y will do.  The important part is that we hide a ring inside (just like we do for Epiphany).  

That's the bottom of the cake with the ring showing.
We turn it over before cutting it.
Whoever gets the ring is King or Queen of Mardi Gras.  That person (kid OR grownup) gets to decide all the little things of the day.

We make Mardi Gras masks to wear at dinner, then pretend we can't recognize each other.  There are plenty of cute craft kits available, but I prefer to just use whatever I have lying about.

From a GREAT tutorial at alphamom.

For dinner, I make Shrimp Etoufee from a recipe given to me by an actual person from Louisiana.  We eat it with cornbread while listening to French music.

Does anyone want the recipe?
It's pretty easy, especially if you use a food processor.
But all of that is just a prelude to after dinner, when we try to eat up all the treats in the house.  First, I separate out hard candy and we donate that to the troops.  Then, we have a go at the rest of the leftover candy from Halloween and Christmas, the frozen cake scraps and ice cream from the five family birthdays we have in fall and winter, the various open bags of cookies, all of it.  The kids like to make crazy ice cream sundae concoctions, the details of which I will not share.  Because they're gross.

Then (hopefully) before we're all sick, whatever we don't eat gets fed to the chickens or tossed.

Finally, we watch The Princess and the Frog.

You may have heard people say that The Princess and the Frog is full of voodoo and black magic and so you shouldn't let your kids see it.  Well, it is.  But, you can.  Or I do anyway.  I like that there are appropriate consequences for the character who deals in black magic.  The Shadow Man gets dragged into hell by demons.  So . . . make note of that, children.

The two main characters show us that virtue is in the middle between overwork and laziness.  They both learn temperance.

And my favorite bit is easily overlooked.  In this movie, marriage is a real thing that makes you fundamentally different.  The details aren't easily explained.  But, once they are married (as frogs) and kiss the spell is broken.  Because once she marries the prince, she becomes a princess.  She is a different person, so now the magic works.  I like that.  THEN they get married in a church, because swamp weddings don't count.  For frogs yes, but not for people.

Problematic: The character of Mama Odie is a positive portrayal of the use of 'hoodoo' magic.  She tries to do 'good' with her magic and doesn't appear to be appealing to the dark side the way that the Shadow Man does.  But, obviously, this isn't behavior we want to encourage, so it's worth pausing the dvd and mentioning that prayer and personal effort are the way to go if something in your life needs changing.  Even if it's REALLY important, like that you've been turned into a frog.  (Pausing and discussing enables us to watch movies as a family that we would not be comfortable presenting to the kids without guidance.  More on our philosophy on screens here.)

It's also scary in parts.  I think it is empowering to kids to be exposed to (appropriate) scary stories and movies.  But if you have a sensitive child, perhaps it's not for you.

We are going to screen it for the whole family next week, including the three year old.

So, that's what we're doing.  If you're planning to do Lent, why not do Fat Tuesday too? 

Laissez les bons temps rouler (Lazay Lay Bon Tom Roulay)

Let the good times roll!



  1. Wow Frankie you are a good organizer to be getting this all together. I see in the photo you are holding one of your favorite items....something sharp and pointy so you can "poke your eye out". I have extra treats from our Super Bowl Party that I can bring up for the party. I also have colored beads in various team colors if you need more..let me know. Only trouble with the Princess and the Frog is your kids want you to make benyas and chickery coffee for them.

  2. I need to get my Louisiana gal to come out and make something yummy for Fat Tuesday. Sadly, I've temporarily lost my awesome King Cake recipe or I'd make a traditional one. Maybe I'll try my hand at homemade beneigts as my boys LOVE those and are anxiously awaiting our next trip to visit my parents in Louisiana so they can have 'em. (And shrimp etouffee sounds heavenly!)

  3. Keep it up. Keep blogging. Looking to reading your next post.

  4. This is a year late, but, if you're still accepting requests, I'd love your recipe! If you're busy though, no worries, I'll google ;)

    1. Of course! Here it is . . .

      I stick butter
      1lb raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, squeezed in a colander to get out excess water, then sprinkled with salt and pepper
      1 large red bell pepper
      1 large yellow bell pepper
      1 large sweet onion
      1 can diced tomatoes with chilies, drained
      2 tbsp flour

      Melt butter in a large pan, I usually use a 12in cast iron skillet.
      Mince the peppers and onions by hand or on low in a food processor
      Add onions and peppers to butter, cook until softened a bit
      Add flour to butter and veggie mixture, stirring constantly cooked until thickened, about 2 minutes
      Add drained tomatoes and shrimp
      Cook until shrimp are pick, but not over done.
      Add Tabasco sauce to taste
      Serve over rice

      I'm doing this from memory, so let me know if it doesn't make sense or there are important parts that seem to be left out!

      Have a lovely Fat Tuesday!

  5. YAY! Someone outside of the former Louisiana territory who celebrates a REAL Mardi Gras (or at least as close as you can get way out there on the west coast). I'm not a Louisiana girl exactly, but those of us who live along coastal Mississippi and coastal Alabama (i.e., that former Louisiana territory I mentioned) also celebrate Mardi Gras (a little-known fact that shocks a lot of people who aren't familiar with the roots of Mardi Gras and just think it's a crazy New Orleans party thing), and eat etouffe', and decorate our homes with purple, green, and gold and right this very minute I'm eating a bit o' King cake while sipping a cup of tea.

    Laissez les bons temps rouler!

  6. I've always made jambalaya for Mardi Gras, with cheater donuts for dessert (refrigerator biscuits with a hole cut out, dipped in sugar and cinnamon). I think I'll sneak a ring into one of the donuts this year. Masks and a movie will be a fun addition too. Thanks for the suggestions!


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