When I was much younger, I thought a trip to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras would be wonderful. Then I became uncomfortable in large crowds. Finally, I spent a Halloween in New Orleans and discovered that drunk crowds are the worst and Mardi Gras would involve even larger drunken crowds.
So, when I remember, I treat the Sunday Super Supper Squad to a little taste of Mardi Gras without the drunks or the masks. This used to be a dinner that Gillian Horvath did, but she's up in Canada making television programs these days. Generally, I'll do jambalaya or gumbo along with red beans and rice. I do buy beads and I make a King Cake. This one comes out of a box, but making it from scratch isn't very difficult. The dough is similar to brioche--an enriched, egg and yeast dough. The hard part is finding the finishing sugars and the prize baby when they aren't part of a package. Cost Plus World Market usually has King Cake mix, along with Cafe du Monde chickory coffee and beignet mix if you don't wait until the last minute to stock up.
During the trip to New Orleans that included Halloween, we were part of a group that ate at K-Paul's and some of the other notable restaurants in the city during our stay. We had a legendary supper at Tujagues, a story that includes George R.R. Martin, Melinda Snodgrass, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Walter Jon Williams, Roger Zelazny, and Gardner Dozois' knob (ask a science fiction writer or a New Orleans waiter some day.) And every night, we would close out the evening by going to the Cafe du Monde for coffee, beignets and great conversation before the shuttle took us back to the dreadful hotel housing our convention.
The thing about New Orleans is that the wonderful food gets really heavy after about two days. We were there for eight days. We could not wait to get back to L.A. where we could get a real salad.