When I say Mardi Gras, we all see drinks, gold, green, and purple beads, and maybe Tiffany Haddish ziplining over Bourbon Street. But what if I told you: Mardi Gras is also pastries.
Picture it, a Mardi Gras Pastry Crawl. You and your friends hopping from bakery to pastry shop, sinking into one soft, sugary confection after another. Now that’s the true Mardi Gras spirit. Why? Because Tuesday is the last indulgent hurrah before Lent begins.
Oh yeah, Lent. For many cultures around the world, the party gets started with Epiphany in early January. This begins the extended period of feasting known as Carnivale, which culminates in Fat Tuesday (as in what you eat, as in generous), also known as Shrove Tuesday. In an earlier era, people would celebrate with pastries in order to use up all the lard, butter, and eggs in their homes before Lent, a period of gustatory restraint. Fewer people are observing Lent these days, but the pastries live on.
Brooklyn Kolache owner and baker Autumn Stanford, who grew up in Texas near the Louisiana border, says whether you’re religious or not, “Mardi Gras a celebration of excess.” Mardi Gras is all about “debauchery and excessive drinking and beads and dancing and parades.” And since the flagship dessert of this celebration, king cake, is basically a giant cinnamon roll, she’s selling individual-sized cinnamon rolls decorated like king cake at her bakery. Her full-sized king cake will be served by the slice throughout the Fat Tuesday celebrations at the Brooklyn natural wine bar, Tailfeather.
But Shrove Tuesday is about more than king cake. There are also pancakes. And Rosca de Reyes. And potato doughnuts. For nearly every Carnivale-observant culture there’s a pastry for Fat Tuesday. Which means whether you’re religious or you have a strong affinity for debauchery, you could celebrate Tuesday with a pastry crawl. Here are some of the highlights you’d want to hit.