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Mardi Gras is a Time to Celebrate Community

A D.C. resident/Louisiana native's perspective on Mardi Gras and Lent.

At the end of the day, the focus of Patch is to provide local community news and information. I couldn’t help but think of this focus during the recent celebrations of Mardi Gras. I realize this may seem a strange connection, but go with me on this. While many of you may have the stereotypical view, and justifiably so, that Mardi Gras is a massive, lawless, drunken festival, this is not entirely true. The modern interpretation of Mardi Gras is certainly that, but there is a heart and soul to Mardi Gras: community.  

Prior to the forty days of fasting and prayer of Lent, Mardi Gras is a celebration. The celebration is different, depending on where it occurs. In New Orleans, pageantry and parades. In Lafayette, food and music and dancing. In Church Point (where my Dad is from), costumes, horses and revelry. But no matter where you are geographically, the same thread of community runs through it all.

My Mardi Gras and Lenten hope for Georgetown is that you take the tim to celebrate community. Celebrate those things that makes Georgetown unique: the history, the residents, the university and so much more.

To honor my Louisiana traditions of Mardi Gras and offer a recipe for the season of Lent, I am sharing my Dad’s recipe for seafood gumbo. I also would like to give a shout-out to Cannon’s Fish Market on 31st Street as an ideal place to get fresh, quality seafood from scallops to shrimp and crab to oysters.  

Happy Mardi Gras and as always, live deeply and happy eating my friends. 

 SEAFOOD GUMBO

Ingredients

 1 large onion, chopped

1 large green bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 quarts seafood stock

2 quarts water

2 Tbsp dark roux

1 ½ pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 ½ pound crab legs

1 pound of raw oysters

Cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper

Vegetable oil

Directions

Place chopped onion, bell pepper and minced garlic in a large soup pot with some vegetable oil (enough to coat vegetables) and sauté over a medium high heat until softened and slightly browned. Sprinkle generously with cayenne pepper.  

Pour in seafood stock and water and sprinkle again with cayenne pepper. Add roux and stir thoroughly. Bring to boil and then lower the heat to medium. Let simmer for 30 - 45 minutes.

Lower the heat to low and skim the fat off the top of the liquid. Add crab legs first and let cook for 10 minutes. Add oysters and let cook for 4 minutes. Add shrimp and let cook for 3 minutes. Add more cayenne pepper each time you add seafood. Salt and pepper to taste and serve over white rice. 

ROUX

Ingredients

 1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup all purpose flour

Directions

Pour oil into a pan over a high heat. Heat until oil is almost smoking. Begin to sprinkle in flour slowly and stir constantly, ensuring to scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir. Do not stop stirring and moving around the contents of the pan.  

Once you have added all of the flour, begin to gradually lower the heat as the mixture begins to darken. Do not stop stirring. If the roux begins to smell like it is burning, it already has.  

Continue stirring constantly for 20 - 30 minutes until you achieve a molasses-like consistency. Pour into a jar and set aside. This is a recipe you must pay attention to for the duration and not be distracted. It is easy to make, but also easy to ruin. 

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