Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Happy Mardi Gras!!

I was so disappointed to find out that none of my students in class this morning plan to celebrate Mardi Gras. In Milan Carnival is not the bash that it is in Venice. In fact the Milanese "celebrate" it 2 days later than the rest of the Catholic world because in the Middle Ages, St. Ambrose petitioned the Pope to allow the plague ridden city, which had suffered enough already to have 2 days less of the rigors of lent. Anyway not much happens here except that there's a lot of colorful confetti on the sidewalks. Hope you all have a fun time tonight.

A couple of notes about the gumbo recipe from the last 2 posts: file (FEE-lay) powder is ground leaf of the sassafras plant. The sassafras plant used to be the flavoring of root beer before modern technology got a hold of the root beer industry. A surprisingly lot of people say file has great flavor which I can't corroborate since my first and only container of it has no taste. It thickens the gumbo, though. Maybe my batch is old or something. My own file also doesn't go all stringy ('file' is the French word for 'string') when I sprinkle it on while the gumbo is still on the fire. Maybe that's also due to the age of the stuff.

Another note is the blog I found while fact-checking my file comment. The site is called New Orleans Cuisine I found not only a pretty complete explanation of file powder but a recipe for smoked Andouille sausage, which you know if you have read the last post is really tempting for me since I have no access to any. But this guy actually finds a way to smoke his own sausage. I'm not there yet. Anyway, if you want to know anything else about New Orleans Cuisine, I suggest you go there. I plan to as well.


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