Mardi Gras is one of my favorite holidays. I just love it, the food, the drinks, the parades, the swag, the colors, I love everything about it. I mean, it’s weeks dedicated to getting all of your bad decisions out of your system in preparation for 40 days of being mildly appropriate. It’s an entire holiday dedicated to excess. In the words of my favorite writer, Oscar Wilde,
“Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.”
New Orleans is also one of my favorite cities. I know that no one does Mardi Gras like New Orleans, but every year I still try! I usually end up mildly succeeding too. I can’t be in New Orleans every year, after all!
I was in New Orleans for Mardi Gras three years ago and it was amazing! Everything I love about New Orleans times 1000… except the lines at Cafe Du Monde I didn’t love that, or the shortage of bathrooms. Still, the Mardi Gras experience was great enough that I didn’t even care that I had to throw my shoes out after. It could have been worse though, my friend Tracy walked through a stream of urine originating from a woman who had discovered the shortage of bathrooms, and she was wearing flip flops! Never wear open toed shoes in New Orleans, but do go to Mardi Gras, it’s great!
The year after that was a pretty steep downgrade. Just a house party at a friends place here in Orlando. But we had good friends, king cake, hurricanes that were blue for some reason, and New Orleans themed movies (The Frog Prince, netflix’s low-budget alternative to The Princess and The Frog. Highly recommended)! What more could you want?
Last year I couldn’t make it to the big easy, so I spent Mardi Gras at Pat O’Brien’s at Universal City Walk in Orlando. It was crowded and touristy and not the most authentic (though the crowded and touristy part was very authentic), but we still had fun. We even met some strangers in the ladies room that bought us drinks! If that’s not the spirit of Mardi Gras then I don’t know what is!
Now this year… This year was the most disappointing Mardi Gras I’ve had in years. In fact, the most disappointing Mardi Gras I’ve had since I moved away from Nashville, where you can’t find king cake and when you ask around about it, all you get is a speech about how Katrina was a punishment for Voodoo. This year was maybe worse than that. It was cold and rainy this year so no one wanted to stand outside at Pat O’Briens, but we found Little New Orleans Kitchen & Oyster Bar in Kissimmee. It was very near by and by some miracle (or really logical explanation in hindsight) was not crowed on Mardi Gras night! Score…. or so we thought. My biggest Mardi Gras regret is that I didn’t take pictures of the food. It was so inauthentic and took so long coming out that I thought “this looks terrible, why would I need to share this?”
I had jambalaya and gumbo. That is to say, I ordered jambalaya and gumbo. What I got was rice and gravy and a brothier rice and gravy. The food was mediocre, but somewhat edible. What really ruined Mardi Gras for everyone was the service. Our waitress, Genesis, was so mean! One member of our party waited 10-15 minutes after everyone else got their food. When we asked where it was she said “we have lots of orders”… no apology, nothing. She was super rude to us the rest of the meal too. No one finished their food and after we complained to the manager she graciously took $2 off of our bill and told us that it was our fault for ordering things that had to cook for different lengths of time. She also literally rolled her eyes and groaned when we asked for separate checks. I really just can’t stand bad service. We had to go to T.G.I.Fridays happy hour after just to try an salvage the night.
So yeah kinda ranty, but I needed to get it out. If you’re ever in Orlando, Little New Orleans Kitchen & Oyster Bar will probably have shut down, but if not, don’t go there. Here’s what the manager of their other location had to say about all of their health code violations. Awesome business model.
What made me most upset I think, is that Mardi Gras is usually my reset for the New Years resolutions I’ve let slide. It’s a lot too. My first trip of the year and I already forgot to schedule post. I’ve not done well with the French lessons either. I’m not Catholic and I don’t give up specific things for lent, I just use Mardi Gras as a time to make terrible decisions before reeling it in a bit so I still fit into my spring clothes. On the bright side, I think this is the least hung over I’ve ever been on Ash Wednesday.
Hopefully your Mardi Gras was a little better than mine this year. Happy Ash Wednesday!