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A Day in the Life of Mardi Gras, From Gumbo to Fried Chicken

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I’m glad Mardi Gras came early this year, because it means I can get on with my life.

Yes, that’s dramatic, but after living in New Orleans for a few years, I can’t imagine how you can observe the period between Epiphany and Mardi Gras without intense F.O.M.O. The beads, the parties, the king cake, and the sense of community is overwhelming, in the best way possible.

10 Drinks to Parade Down Bourbon Street
10 Drinks to Parade Down Bourbon Street

You’ll see why it’s hard to sit at a desk, when I know the following day is possible:

  • 7:00 AM—Wake up! You really should be out of bed by now if you’re hoping to catch at least two of the big parades (Rex, Zulu, St. Ann’s).
  • 7:30—Shake off your Lundi Gras hangover with a Bloody Mary and coffee.
At the Red Beans Parade (right), all costumes are made from dried red beans. Photos by Kaitlin Bray
  • 8:30—Pause before your second drink and track down some breakfast. Egg & cheese po’boys, bagels, and leftover king cake are all good options.
  • 9:00—Alternate vying for beads and throws with vying for a spot at a dive bar. Do this for at least three hours.
King Cake
King Cake
  • 12:00 PM—Do not succumb to any feelings of sleepiness. Remember that in most places it is just another Tuesday and instantly feel grateful that you are tipsy and covered in glitter.
  • 12:30—Follow your friend's suggestion to swing by a random house in the French Quarter. Arrive to a simmering cast-iron pot of jambalaya, open bags of Zapp's potato chips, and plastic bags full of boiled crawfish, potatoes, and corn.
Photo by Kaitlin Bray
  • 2:00—Thank hosts graciously and head back onto the street. Wander the Quarter, bumping into friends and let chance be your guide. Hopefully this will lead you to another house party with freshly shucked oysters and a big pot of gumbo.
  • 5:00—The hangover will start to kick in. You'll suddenly realize you have been going nonstop since the previous Thursday and that nothing sounds better than teleporting to your bed.
King cake and the remains of king cake. Photos by Kaitlin Bray
  • 5:30—But first, fried chicken. Gnaw on leg in front of your favorite convenience store. Catch a glimpse of your reflection in the window and feel mildly scared by what greets you.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
  • 6:00—Collapse in a puddle onto your couch. Remember that you are smeared with facepaint and glitter and take a shower if you’re stable enough to not risk cracking your skull on the tub.
  • 6:15—Sleep for at least 18 hours.
  • 12 PM (Ash Wednesday)—Promise that you’ll only drink green juice and eat vegetables for the next forty days.

What's your craziest Mardi Gras story? Tell us your P.G. version in the comments below.

Tags: mardi gras, fat tuesday, new orleans