Spanish Town on Parade REIGNING CATS & DOGS Pet Parades Moon Pies, Moon Pies, Throw Me Some Beads


Meet Rouses KING CAKE KREWE You Ought to Go See the MARDI GRAS

the Mardi Gras issue

Make Your New Year’s Resolution Delicious



On the Cover Rouses Traditional King Cake Read more about Rouses King Cake Krewe on pg. 48 Cover Photo by Romney Caruso • • • “ People who knew Granny generally agree on one thing: When you talked to her, she made you feel like you were the only person in the room. She gave you her complete attention. She made everyone she met feel like she was genuinely interested in them, because she was.” —Donny Rouse, CEO, 3rd Generation “ Granny was always incredibly involved in everything we were doing. Even though there were so many of us — she raised six kids, who gave her 17 grandkids — she would be present at every little event throughout our childhood. Granny would always find little ways to make each one of us feel special.” —Ali Rouse Royster, 3rd Generation “ Granny was always teaching us life lessons even when we thought we were just playing games. She was a master at Chinese checkers and cards — any game of skill. She saw four or five moves ahead. She taught me all about the importance of having a strategy for what you do.” —Chris Acosta, 3rd Generation “ She was without a doubt the heart and soul of our family. Her strength, kindness and character will forever be an ideal for our family.” —Blake Richard, 3rd Generation

Mr. & Mrs. Anthony J. Rouse, Sr.

Joyce Guillory Rouse (1928-2017) My mother, Joyce Guillory Rouse, was born in Eunice, Louisiana, in 1928. The Guillorys were a close-knit family, and after my Aunt Lee moved to Thibodaux, Mama followed to go to secretarial school. Aunt Dean would also move close by, and for a few years, my grandparents, Artion and Eldie, lived in Thibodaux as well. Mama met my father, Anthony J. Rouse, Sr., at the College Inn, a popular Thibodaux dance hall — not surprising, since they both loved to dance. Mama was a secretary, and Daddy worked for his father, J.P. Rouse, at the City Produce Company.They married in 1949 and had six children: my brothers Anthony, Jr.,Wayne, Tommy and me; and two daughters (my sisters), Cindy Acosta and Jeaneen Rouse. In 1960, Daddy and his cousin Ciro DiMarco opened our family’s first grocery, a little 7,000-square-foot store in Houma, Louisiana. Daddy and Cousin Ciro poured everything they had into that little store, and Mama helped out nearly every day. As soon as we kids were old enough to work, we did too — after school, on weekends and on holidays. Cousin Ciro eventually retired in 1975, and Daddy — with Mama’s help — went on to open supermarkets all over South Louisiana. Mama and Daddy were devoted to one another. As busy as they both were — Daddy building a business; Mama helping at the stores, wrangling six kids and later keeping up with 17 boisterous grandkids — they always made time for each other. Saturday night was reserved for what we would call “date night” nowadays. It always included dancing. And date night continued right up until my dad’s death in 2009. Mama never waned in her support or love of her family, and she bravely carried on, even when times were tough. She handled everything that life threw her way with strength, dignity and grace. If my father was the head of our family, my mother was certainly the heart. Since her passing in December at age 89, so many of you have shared fond memories of her over the years. Knowing she was loved by so many people is of great comfort to us and to all our family. Donald Rouse 2 rd Generation


table of contents JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2018





FEATURES 8 All on a Mardi Gras Day by Chris Rose 12 Spanish Town’s Flamingeaux by David W. Brown 18 MoonPie in the Sky by Emily Blejwas 24 Cajun Carnival: La Danse de Mardi Gras by Sarah Baird 38 Indians: HereThey Come by Pableaux Johnson 41 Throws by Wayne Curtis

RECIPES 21 Moon Pie Cake

42 Throw Me Something, Mister by Chris Rose 44 Reigning Cats &Dogs by Chris Rose 55 The Search for the Cure for the Common Hangover by Wayne Curtis MARDI GRAS MUSIC 19 Moon Pie, Moon Pie by Alison Fensterstock 27 Big Mamou by Sarah Baird 30 Carnival Music by Jason Berry

34 Music of the Mardi Gras Indians by Alison Fensterstock IN OUR STORES 15 Cane Land’s Parade Rum by Wayne Curtis 48 Meet Rouses King Cake Krewe by Helen Freund 53 Cocktail & Sons’ Syrups by Wayne Curtis 52 Bona-Fried Good Chicken by Judy Walker

27 Chicken Big Mamou 50 Mardi Gras Monkey Bread 51 Parade Rolls 55 Mardi Gras Mary IN EVERY ISSUE 1 Letter from the Family 4 Departments & Products

“ MoonPies hit their stride as throws in theearly 1970s,when thecityofMobile banned Cracker Jack (the then-favorite Mardi Gras throw) because the sharp corners of the boxes were injuring spectators.” —Emily Blejwas, page 18




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the Mardi Gras issue

DEPARTMENTS & PRODUCTS We started out in 1960 with a 7,000-square-foot store and have grown to 55 locations across South Louisiana, Mississippi and Lower Alabama.

FRESH PRODUCE We work closely with growers all over the world to bring you fruits and vegetables at season’s peak. Cara cara seedless navel oranges, Moro blood oranges, clementines, red-orange tangerines, Minneola tangelos and grapefruits are fresh and ripe right now. Pummelos, which look like oversize grapefruits but are sweeter and less acidic, are also in season. We also have Meyer lemons, which are sweeter and juicier than regular lemons, and yellow-and-green-striped Pink Zebra lemons. Strawberries from such locally famous areas as Ponchatoula, the self-proclaimed "Strawberry Capital of the World,” arrive in stores in January.

New Rouses Markets Coming Soon Each year, we get hundreds of customer requests to open new stores. Look for new Rouses Markets in Moss Bluff, Sulphur and Covington, Louisiana and West

SEAFOOD MARKET We partner with local fishing families all across the Gulf Coast to bring you the best of every catch. Local seafood is boiled in store using a Rouse Family Recipe perfected over three generations. Crawfish, crabs, shrimp, oysters and catfish are king on the Gulf Coast, but why not try something new? There’s plenty of fish in our seafood case, and our certified seafood experts are trained to select, cut and prepare every piece we sell. They’re always available to prep your seafood or offer cooking or recipe ideas.

Mobile, Alabama, this year. There are other sites we are working on, too.

JOIN OUR TEAM Our team members share a strong work ethic and dedication to providing our customers the best quality and service. If you’re looking for a career you’ll love, apply online

BUTCHER SHOP Our butcher shop offers higher-quality beef, pork and poultry that’s priced lower than other gro- cers. Each store features a full-service butcher shop with master butchers available to answer your ques- tions about cuts, grades and cooking. Special orders are welcome. Our Cajun Specialties are, well, our specialty. Our boudin, andouille, fresh and smoked sausages, and stuffed meats are crafted using Rouse Family Recipes that go back three generations. And cooking and heating instructions for our meats are available online at


Contact Us! Tweet Us! @RousesMarkets Like Rouses? We like you too! Find us on Facebook at Share Photos! @rousesmarkets SIGN UP FOR EMAILS Hungry for more?

DELI Our cooks use the same great, fresh ingredients you can find on our shelves to make our Cajun, Creole and Southern specialties. Look for limited time offer- ings alongside Mardi Gras favorites like fried chicken, finger sandwiches and mini muffalettas. Our hot soup menu changes daily, though you’ll always find our famous gumbo — it’s a favorite year-round. Pictured, Buttermilk Fire Fried Chicken

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HEALTHY NEW YEAR! Resolve to Eat Right in 2018

New! MEAL KITS for TWO Leave the fuss to us! Our new Meal Kits include everything you need to make a restaurant-quality meal at home. Just follow our chef’s simple step-by-step cooking instructions. Pictured, Blackened Shrimp Pasta

“Here are a few tips and practices I actually use in my own life. Try incorporating some of them into your daily routine for a month or two, and see if you can train yourself to make these healthy practices more habit than obligation.” —Esther, Rouses Registered Dietitian 1. Never go on a diet and never say you’re on a diet (unless you have a special diet for a medical condition, of course). Diets don’t work because they’re unrealistic. You may get results by making drastic changes up-front, but when life returns to normal it’s not uncommon for the weight to return, too. 2. Start with small, realistic changes. Make goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART). Instead of saying, “I want to lose 50 pounds,” say, “I want to lose five pounds by April 1. I will do this by working out three times a week and cutting out one soda a day.” 3. Plan ahead. This significantly diminishes the possibility of any “slips” and will help keep you within your budget. 4. Pre-portion snacks and ingredients for lunch. Sure, it’s a lot of work on the front end, but it saves time and effort throughout the week. 5. Give yourself options. Don’t plan to eat the same thing every day. 6. Don’t be hard on yourself. One cookie doesn’t make you unhealthy. Focus on eating an overall healthy diet, and treat yourself every now and then. New! GOOD-TO-GO Food that’s good for you and tastes good too! Our Eat Right with Rouses meals, side dishes and snacks are created by our in-house chefs and registered dietitian. They’re sensibly sized, made with better-for-you ingredients and suited to specific dietary goals or restrictions. Options include high protein, low sodium, low calorie, dairy free and no sugar added. LOOK FOR THE LOGO Rouses registered dietitian has also Complimentary tours designed to teach you how to effectively shop your local Rouses are available by appointment. To schedule a tour, email EAT RIGHT HEALTH FAIRS Our Eat Right health fairs are fun and a great way to learn how healthy can taste good, too. Visit to see what Eat Right events are going on in your neighborhood. ​ SIGN UP FOR OUR E-NEWSLETTERS Our monthly Eat Right emails include health and nutrition information, plus easy recipes from our registered dietitian. Sign up at to get our Eat Right emails, food finds and recipes, as well as weekly specials delivered right to your inbox.​ Eat Right WITH ROUSES handpicked more than 500 grocery items that have lower sodium and saturated fat, healthier fats, more fiber and less sugar. Just look for the easy-to-spot Eat Right logo on the shelf tag or package. GROCERY STORE TOURS

FLOWER SHOP Our licensed florists are as picky about the flowers we sell as our chefs are about the ingredients in the foods we make. Choose traditional roses or a one-of-a-kind Valentine’s Day arrangement. Custom orders are welcome. We also offer gift cards and beautifully wrapped gift baskets.

CAKES & DESSERTS There are as many reasons to order our cakes and cupcakes as there are ways to customize them. If you’d like to place a special order for a cake or dessert, or schedule a wedding consultation, stop by or call your neighborhood Rouses Market. Pictured, King Cake Doberge

WINE, SPIRITS & BEER We offer wines and spirits at every price point. Rouses experts are on the floor to answer questions and offer pairing suggestions. Our craft beer selection includes cans, bottles and kegs from all over the Gulf Coast, nation, and import labels from around the world.

ROUSES PRIVATE LABEL We have close relationships with the dairies that bottle our milk, bakeries that make our sandwich bread, and manu- facturers who package our products. Discover new items every time you shop, including our new Rouses Sicilian extra virgin olive oil.


the Mardi Gras issue





A ” Top It All



BLUE TOP + LOUISIANA’S World Famous CUISINE = “ laissez le bon temps rouler “

Indulge your taste buds with this new caramelized creme bar. Made with crushed peanuts and pretzels to give you a very fine crunch, indeed.


the Mardi Gras issue

— ALL ON A — MARDI GRAS DAY by Chris Rose + photos by Pableaux Johnson




M ardi Gras lends itself to a legion of overwrought descriptions, a glossary of purple prose and myriad events, occasions, traditions and postures. Yet it is so misunderstood. To quote one of my favorite writers (me): “To encapsulate the notion of Mardi Gras as nothing more than a big drunk is to take the simple and stupid way out. Mardi Gras is not a parade. Mardi Gras is not girls flashing on French Quarter balconies.Mardi Gras is not an alcoholic binge. Mardi Gras is the love of life. It is the harmonic convergence of our food, our music, our creativity, our eccentricity, our neighborhoods and our joy of living. All at once.” But to get closer to the bone, I quote the simple, concise phrasing of another one of my favorite writers (Sly Stone): “It’s a family affair.” It’s the annual gathering of Gulf Coast souls to celebrate the triumph of the human spirit. (With, admittedly, a lot of parades.) From Lake Charles, Lafayette and Baton Rouge to Houma, Morgan City, Mobile and Gulf Shores, Mardi Gras is the Gulf Coast’s blessed feast of family, friends, festivities, frolics, fantastical notions and frightfully good fun. In fact, it’s reach actually goes far beyond the provincial realm of the South; one of my favorite Mardi Gras memories occurred on a ski lift at Cascade, a molehill of a “mountain” outside of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, birthplace of the world’s first indoor water park (think Vegas for kids) and home to hundreds of miles of waterslides, both indoor and out.

renegade wielding a Weed Eater. (Words do it no justice; the Push Mow parade is even more breathtaking in person!) My dog Biscuit was once Queen of the Barkus parade in New Orleans, one of many canine convocations that occur throughout the region, wherein thoroughly puzzled, loyal mutts are subject to the sartorial whims and attendant humiliation visited upon them by their overzealous guardians. (See page 44.) But hey, who says humans should be the only ones to be a part of Carnival! There is something for everyone, everywhere, at Mardi Gras — parades and processions to serve all places and populations, massive public spectacles and intimate community gatherings, and the occasional secret society catering to the whims of the gentry, geeks, drag queens (page 42), Elks, Shriners, Elvis impersonators, mermaids, Mardi Gras Indian tribes (page 38), Skull & Bones gangs and the mysterious chosen few whose identities are never revealed — like I said, it’s for everyone. From the mystic societies of Mobile (page 18), to Spanish Town’s Mystic Krewe for the Preservation of Lagniappe in Louisiana (page 12), to the “gangs” and “tribes” of Pigeon Town and the Ninth Ward, from the boat parades of Slidell, Madisonville, Lake Charles and Orange Beach, we are all brothers and sisters of different titles seeking the same state of grace imbued by the high holy season of revelry, laughter and forgetting.

I took my kids there one Mardi Gras to teach them to ski and, as we rode the lazy ski lift up the slopes, we were greeted at eye level by pine tree branches draped and bespangled with Mardi Gras beads, deposited there over the years by Southern revelers who’d escaped to the frozen tundra for Carnival season, showing the Cheesehead Nation what an authentic “Mardi Gras tree” looks like. It looks like heaven in the white hills. Everyone has their Mardi Gras stories and memories; every place has its annual traditions and sacred rituals. I have ridden in the Courir de Mardi Gras in Eunice, Louisiana, one of the exotic and intoxicating trail rides that take place all over Acadiana each year, wherein fabulously costumed revelers on horses trample through the countryside at dawn, chasing terrified chickens across prairies and farmlands in hopes of contributing to each community’s massive gumbo feast that closes out the day. (For more on Cajun Mardi Gras, where the chicken runs are celebrated, see page 24.) I once presided as King of the annual Push Mow parade in Abita Springs, a ragtag ensemble of local eccentrics and oddities pushing — and riding — their beloved Poulans and John Deeres, plus the occasional

illustrations by Mark Andresen

There are nearly two dozen Mississippi Gulf Coast parades. Biloxi, the first city in Mississippi to host an official Mardi Gras, back in 1908, is the center of the festivities. King d’Iberville and Queen Ixolib (that’s Biloxi spelled backwards) reign as official royalty of the Gulf Coast Carnival Association. Other cities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, including Gulfport, Ocean Springs and Diamondhead, also hold parades. Some, like the Ocean Springs Elks Parade and Gulfport’s Krewe of Gemini, feature floats and trucks, while other smaller parades are made up of decorated cars and golf carts.

For family-friendly fun and great music check out Family Gras, a three-day celebration of carnival held on the neutral ground of Veterans Memorial Boulevard, across from the Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie. Parades, including those of the krewes of Excalibur, Athena, Napoleon and Caesar — the largest Carnival organization in Jefferson Parish — roll right alongside the neutral ground.


the Mardi Gras issue

“ I once presided as King of the annual Push Mow parade in Abita Springs, a ragtag ensemble of local eccentrics and oddities pushing — and riding — their beloved Poulans and John Deeres, plus the occasional renegade wielding a Weed Eater.”

Mardi Gras can be as grand a notion as universal love or as trivial a matter as a welcome day off to gambol with family, friends, strangers and lovers. (Sometimes, they’re the same thing.) There are brass bands, steel bands, Cajun bands,military bands, high school marching bands and some really, really great bands who’ve created the sound of the celebration (page 30). Professor Longhair takes us to the Mardi Gras (page 30).We move our feet, we scream, we shout, we do the Funky Butt — on many occasions and for no reason at all. And we boil crawfish, the shared eucharist of Carnival. Everywhere. Lots of it. While, for everywhere else in the country … it’s just Tuesday. But there’s another way to explain it all, particularly the family aspect: Picture Christmas, if Christmas lasted a month and on most days you got to wear Halloween costumes and, instead of shelling out a thousand bucks for presents for your kids, they get free gifts from strangers tossing beads (page 41), toys, novelties, baubles,

candies, MoonPies (page 18) and rubber dog poops — yes, rubber dog poops. Sound strange? Not here, stranger. Mardi Gras is community, shared ideals, shared spaces, shared stories, and shared food and drink. It’s no backyard get-together. It’s no private assembly. It’s a front-stoop celebration, public revelry, a democracy of equals, with your view to the horizon — or even across the street — often clouded by a thick, nearly impenetrable plume of smoke billowing off sidewalk grills, meat cookers and seafood pots. And though I am a sucker for soul-piercing carols (“O Holy Night,” “Away in a Manger”) the truth is, when you lay down the cards and go jukebox to jukebox, Mardi Gras music (pages 30 and 32) beats the Christmas canon hands down. It’s “Carnival Time.” Again.

The Krewe of Bilge in Slidell and the Krewe of Tchefuncte in Madisonville are two of the more popular floating parades. Krewe members in decorated boats heave Mardi Gras beads and throws to parade-goers along canals of Eden Isles and banks of the Tchefuncte. ​

Cajun country carnival traditions go be- yond Mardi Gras Runs in Mamou, Eunice, Iota, Basile and surrounding areas. Le Fes- tival de Mardi Gras a Lafayette at Cajun Field includes parades, live entertainment and a carnival midway. There are other family-friendly community parades in nearby towns including Youngsville. St. Mary Parish celebrates Mardi Gras on the Cajun Coast, while towns and com- munities centered along Bayou Lafourche — Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou — offer 17 family-friendly parades with a Cajun flare.

Houma and Lake Charles both claim the second-largest Mardi Gras celebration in all of Louisiana. But it depends on how you measure. Houma offers more than a dozen parades, including Krewe of Houmas, Terrebonne’s first carnival club, which parades on Mardi Gras. Lake Charles only has seven parades, but the area has more than 50 Carnival krewes, a number second only to New Orleans. Each krewe is a part of a larger organization called Krewe of Krewes.





BBQ PERFECTION Award winning pit master G Hughes brings his famously SUGAR FREE & GLUTEN FREE BBQ SAUCE to select retailers and BBQ-lovin’ homes.


This is the same great tasting tomato based table sauce without sugar, gluten or high fructose corn syrup. No guilt! Slather this sweet tangy favorite on!


the Mardi Gras issue

Spanish Town’s Flamingeaux by DavidW. Brown + photos by Collin Richie




T his year’s theme for the Spanish Town Mardi Gras parade is “Game of Thongs.” If that choice seems questionable to you, let me remind you, it is well in keeping with this parade’s colorful history and the mantra of its thoroughly pink-flamingoed community: “Bad taste is better than no taste at all.” The parade is best known for its rowdy political commentary and off-color humor (e.g., “FEMAture Evacuation” in 2006).Where the krewes of New Orleans shape and measure the social strata of that city, Spanish Town — the largest Mardi Gras parade in Baton Rouge — bills itself as the “people’s parade,” and its krewes are more inclined to ridicule than respect those who would claim a pedestal. Spanish Town crawls annually along a skyline of shotgun homes and hipster housing, with the state capitol looming above. This year the parade rolls on Saturday, February 10 at noon, beginning on its namesake road and inch- worming across downtown before ending on Lafayette and Main. It started 38 years ago as a sort of improvised neighborhood art project and grew from there. The community’s richness and vibrancy made the parade’s success inevitable. The Spanish Town district is perhaps the loveliest illustration this side of the French Quarter of how diverse cultures can intersect and then elevate a place and its people. Those who have called the community home over the centuries include Native Americans, Spaniards, Canary Islanders, American soldiers, newly freed African Americans after the Civil War, and students from what was then the new campus of Louisiana State University. It was a safe place for homosexuals at a

reminder that the rules of society are simply agreed-upon and arbitrary. For instance, you wear a pink mankini to the office, and something is amiss. You wear it to the Spanish Town parade, and you’re overdressed. To that end, the parade is not so much risqué or titillating as it is ribald, the parade-goers less gone wild than gone odd. There most likely won’t be any flashing. This isn’t Bourbon Street filled with partying tourists, after all; most of the parade-goers are locals. There will be crowds and krewes alike dressed in their Sunday weirdest: some in feather boas, some in pink tights — some going with both because, hey, the ensemble matches his or her halter and cape. Anything less would somehow be an affront to the Baton Rouge district that inspired the celebration underway. The parade is the apotheosis, the very essence, of Spanish Town’s communal impishness.

Those attending the parade can expect to see floats decorated as though they were dreamed up and improvised the night before. (The Worst Float title is an annual award given to krewes by the parade’s organizer, the Society for the Preservation of Lagniappe in Louisiana, or SPLL. Bribery is also an official part of the judging process, and krewes vie for the Best Bribe award.) You might, on the other hand, see floats decorated lavishly with human anatomy not generally on display in public. There will be more plastic pink flamingos on floats, throws and costumes than there are living flamingos in the wild.The sky will be filled with flying beads, cups, condoms and candy, and those not caught or argued over will be left “ There will be more plastic pink flamingos on floats, throws and costumes than there are living flamingos in the wild.”

time when discrimination against them was widespread. The community has weathered such crises as the city’s economic collapse in the 1970s and the AIDS epidemic that began in the 1980s.The events of years both good and bad have made Spanish Town into the city of Baton Rouge’s élan vital : a brushstroke of color that brightens the landscape. In retrospect, the creation of a parade seems like the perfect and obvious offshoot of this unique neighborhood; a way not only to celebrate the community, but also to share its values — loving and eccentric — with surrounding areas. Why not a Mardi Gras parade, where for two hours a year, valueless throws like beads and doubloons are imbued with mystical allure and sought after desperately by rich and poor alike? This tradition of trinket chasing draws communities closer: We are not merely watching this thing together; we are doing this thing together. The first year the parade had a theme, it was “Every Man a Mardi Gras King” — and it marked a return of Mardi Gras from over- the-top spectacles with their seven-figure parade costs and aloof, imported celebrities) back to the common parade-goer in the street. The parade remains an essential

[TOP] The Prancing Babycakes marching group has been a mainstay in the Spanish Town Parade for years. [PAGE 12] Kitschy plastic pink flamingos are a common sight in quirky and colorful Spanish Town.


the Mardi Gras issue

Expect crowds. Around 100,000 attended the parade in 2017, which occurred in the aftermath of the floods that devastated the city. The defiant theme that year: Come Hell or High Water, It’s Slippery When Wet. (The parade is more than a morale boost for Baton Rouge; in good years, its organizing group raises donations in the six figures for local charities.) With the city still in recovery, the attendance numbers are likely to be even higher this year. Such services as Airbnb present out-of-towners with a nice opportunity to join in the festivities and enjoy the parade like a local: drunk, but not driving, and with easy access to bathrooms. There are also several hotels along the parade route, or within walking distance of it. The bathroom situation in general isn’t nearly so dire in Downtown Baton Rouge as it is in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. During the parade, look for more than just beads and garish floats. The streets will be lined also with locals who’ve opened their homes to all during the festivities. Food and drink, in places, are made communal. The breaking of bread is, after all, the first act of solidarity, which is what the Spanish Town community and its parade have always been about — that, and a little light naughtiness. On the precipice of the holy season, there needs to be some slight and winking pushing of boundaries, and there ought to be events that bring together the high and low, rich and poor, if only to sustain the community and remind us that ours is a unique city worth celebrating.The Spanish Town parade achieves this annually, and for that reason, cannot be missed.

alongside empty beer bottles, of which there will also be many. (I’d wear closed-toe shoes if I were you.) There will be jokes — some biting, some tasteless — and jokes about the jokes they can’t make (“slap at overly sensitive groups here,” read one float last year). One annual parade highlight is the Krewe of Yazoo, Baton Rouge’s self- described “precision lawn mower drill team,” pushing themed lawn mowers and performing choreographed routines. Every Mardi Gras parade is at its heart a parade for kids, but note that your child will see floats that wouldn’t pass muster by Macy’s

on Thanksgiving Day. Your youngest won’t get the dirtiest of the humor, and your teens will have seen worse on the Internet a few hours earlier — if not from their phones during the actual festivities. You face the prospect of an awkward question or two during the ride home, but the best course of action in that case is to stare forward so hard that your gaze risks shattering the windshield, and say that you’re not sure what that meant, exactly, and that maybe they (and they could have been on a float or in the crowd) were just being silly. Derail follow-ups by suggesting we all go for ice cream at La Divina. When planning your emplacement for the festivities, note that there is a “family friendly” zone along the parade route on Convention Street between 5th and 7 th streets.

Spanish Town is Baton Rouge’s largest Mardi Gras celebration, attracting up to 100,000 spectators. The 38th annual parade rolls Saturday, February 10th at noon.




I t’s hard to nail down what Spanish Town Market is, exactly. Is it a grocery store? Certainly they sell staples and fresh produce, and Baton Rouge residents have been shopping there for more than a century. It is also a hip little diner with the usual fare of sandwiches, salads, specials and sides. It is a coffee shop, quirky yet straightforward, with local art on the walls and strings of lights on the ceiling. And it is an institution, a community meeting point, its patio ever lively with conversation and strummed guitars. Spanish Town Market is located in the heart of the historic Spanish Town dis- trict, on Spanish Town and Seventh, beneath and between the lush trees and ver- dant lawns lining the street. Outside, regulars gab with one another, some around single tables, others leaning back to join in conversations two tables over. Every- one, it seems, knows everyone. You might sit and chat, but you will more likely be enticed to the counter inside, drawn by whatever is sizzling on the kitchen grill. The market serves an evolving menu of freshly prepared lunches and dinners. When Dearman’s burned down, Spanish Town Market’s fries became the best in the city — fresh cut, and seasoned just so. The sandwiches and burgers are homemade, prepared a dozen ways, and christened with names like Mushwiss and Smokin’ Chick.This is no greasy spoon, though.There is an elegance to the cuisine and a pride in its presentation. The lightly fried Gulf shrimp po’boy is a lunchtime standout, topped with tomatoes and shredded lettuce, served on bread that’s airy and flaky. This kind of quality comes only from a labor of love. Five years ago, Baton Rouge local Taylor Blanche went in with his fiancée and brother to buy what was then called Capitol Grocery Store. His goal was to restore and revitalize the corner store. The trio succeeded. The market has become an evening go-to spot for their well- loved pizza by the slice, and it is by far the best place to watch the famed Spanish Town Mardi Gras parade — and everybody knows it. Just follow the pink-frocked crowds to find this charming oasis of food and flamingos.You won’t want to leave. SPANISH TOWN MARKET Baton Rouge’s Best for Burgers & Beads by DavidW. Brown + photo by Collin Richie

Cane Land’s Parade Rum

So after years of obstacle jumping, site scouting and permit applying, he hired distiller Jonny ver Planck and ordered an impressive copper still from Vendome Copper & Brass Works, the nation’s premier fabricator of stills. He also studied up on technique and learned the importance of resting and aging his distillate before it goes into the bottles. So he bought several 5,000-gallon wooden vats once used by cognac makers in France, had them dismantled and shipped, then flew in four French coopers, who spent five days reassembling them. (He’s also employing some used Rémy Martin cognac casks for aging.) Today, Cane Land Distilling sells four styles of rum, including a traditional molasses-based rum, a Martinique-style rhum agricole (made from fresh-pressed sugarcane) a spiced rum and a cinnamon rum. (He also makes a vodka from sugarcane, and sells a whiskey “imported” by riverboat down the Mississippi). “Rum’s on the rise across the board,” Tharp says, “and if you really are going to get into rum, you’ve got to go all the way.” Available in Louisiana Rouses Markets.

by Wayne Curtis About a half hour northwest of Baton Rouge, surrounded by sugarcane fields, is the Alma Sugar Plantation & Sugar Mill. It processes sugar from nearly 50,000 acres of sugarcane grown across South Louisiana, with much of that ending up in packets and five-pound bags on your grocery store shelves. But not all of it. Walter Tharp, whose family owns the mill, diverts a portion of that sugar for making rum at a gleaming new distillery and tasting room that opened last spring near the banks of the Mississippi in Downtown Baton Rouge. Tharp spent years planning the distillery — the idea of which took root when he attended a wedding held by a sugarcane-growing and rum-distilling family in Central America. They asked him, “Why don’t you make rum?” He initially dismissed the question — “We don’t make candy bars, either,” he remembers thinking — but the idea began to gnaw at him. Why not?


On-the-go baked snacks crafted with thoughtful ingredients!


Sabra Dipping Co., LLC ©2018



Cheesy Hash Browns.


1 package Simply Potatoes ® Shredded Hash Browns 1 can (10.75 ounces) cream of chicken soup 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese ¾cup sour cream ¼ cup chopped onion ½ cup butter or margarine, melted Topping Ingredients: 1 ½ cups corn flakes, coarsely crushed 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 2 quart glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.* In large bowl combine all hash brown ingredients; mix well. Spread into prepared baking dish. In small bowl stir together topping ingredients. Spread topping evenly over hash browns. Bake 45 minutes or until hash browns are tender. Tips & Substitutions:

*An 11x7-inch rectangular or 8-inch square baking dish can be used.

*A 9-inch square baking dish can be used for a 2 ½ quart casserole baking dish.

©2017 Crystal Farms


the Mardi Gras issue

photo by Jeff Tesney

MoonPies missed in the air are still in play once they’re on the ground. As Mobilian Carrie Dozier explains, her MoonPies weren’t “…caught in the air, but by scraping my fingernails like a rake on the pavement. It didn’t hurt! All that mattered was that I got a MoonPie!” Dozier even claims that MoonPies “from the parades have a different taste. These are the real things!” And when MoonPies land “tauntingly outside the traffic barricade,” notes parade- goer Kim Kearley, they are retrieved “by savvy children able to perform the fluid ‘under-the-barricade leg scissor.’” Less agile types bring rakes. Mobile is serious about MoonPies. But how did this beloved Southern snack from Tennessee find itself at the center of Mobile Mardi Gras? First, a bit of MoonPie history to get us up to speed. MoonPies were first produced in 1917 at the Chattanooga Bakery. Made from graham cookies, marshmallow and chocolate, MoonPies were one of 200 items made at the bakery, but they quickly became a top-selling product. The original MoonPie was more than four inches in diameter and sold for a nickel. Because it was affordable and filling, it was especially popular among the working class. Similarly, in 1934, the Royal Crown Company in Columbus, Georgia began selling RC Cola in 16-ounce bottles instead of the usual 12-ounce, also for a nickel. With the MoonPie as the biggest snack cake for a nickel and the RC Cola as the biggest soft drink, together they became a popular 10-cent combination, especially as a workingman’s lunch. Though neither company made any effort to link the two products, the phrase “an RC Cola and a MoonPie” became well known across the South, bolstered by the 1951 hit country song “Gimme an RC Cola and a Moon

moonpie in the sky by Emily Blejwas

D uring the monthlong Mardi Gras season in Mobile, Alabama, the birthplace of Mardi Gras in Amer- ica, over 30 parades roll through the down- town streets, each featuring a dozen floats. And at every parade, from every float, the prized catch is a MoonPie. “You can throw

a MoonPie at a two-year-old child, and a 50 year old will knock them out of the way to get it,” says Mobile City Councilman Fred Richardson. “If you run out of MoonPies, you might as well just lie down on the float. You can throw beads for a little while, but the people will start calling for MoonPies.”




Pie” by Big Bill Lister. By the late 1950s, according to David Magee’s 2006 book, MoonPie: Biography of an Out-of-This-World Snack , the MoonPie had become so popular that the Chattanooga Bakery produced nothing else. Around this time, MoonPies made their debut as throws in Mobile Mardi Gras parades. But the identity of the thrower of the very first MoonPie is up for debate, and several local legends have sprung up around it. One claims that children on the Queen’s float in the Comic Cowboys parade were the first to throw MoonPies in a Mobile Mardi Gras parade in 1956. Another gives the honor to Jerry Curran, who rode in his first parade in 1958 on an Infant Mystics float that carried several employees of Smith’s Bakery, who tossed wrapped bakery products like coconut balls and cupcakes to the crowds. Before the next year’s parade, Curran visited Malbis Bakery, where his father worked, to ask if they had anything good to throw for Mardi Gras.Malbis made their own version of MoonPies, which Curran threw the following year, in 1959. Referred to by his nephew, Glen, as “the granddaddy of MoonPies,” Robert “Bob” Harrison is also credited with being the first to throw the MoonPie. In 1967, Harrison was talked into joining the Stripers, but had little money to spend on throws. At the time, he worked as a distributor for the Murray Biscuit Company and could obtain MoonPies at a low cost. He brought boxes of MoonPies to the float — he was a little embarrassed to do so, but the crowd loved them— and the next year, all of the Stripers threw MoonPies. Yet another legend credits the Maids of Mirth with throwing the first MoonPies in the late 1960s. As the story goes, Louise “Sister” McClure and Elizabeth “Dibber” Lutz went to Tom’s Candy Sales in search of something different (and less costly) to replace the full-size candy bars they had thrown in the past. McClure relates that MoonPies “were so cheap — two or three boxes for a dollar, a lot less than some throws. We didn’t even try to get a deal from the store — we just bought a dozen or so boxes and started throwing them. They were easy to throw. You could take hold of the cellophane and flip them just like a Frisbee.” The crowd loved the MoonPies, especially the children who could easily

Moon Pie, Moon Pie, Throw Me Some Beads ...

of course, the tune is actually about going to a parade, with lines that capture the sights (“majorettes pop-locking down to the ground”) and even the smells (“horses, corn dogs, chicken on a stick”) of a day on the route. As of late 2017, the video has had close to two million views on YouTube. Somehow, Carnival (whether in Mobile, New Orleans, Cajun country or wherever revelry can be found on Fat Tuesday) manages to put its stamp on every genre of music to emerge from the Gulf Coast. Before 2 Major Twinz’s “Mardi Gras Song,” ’80s releases like Parlez’s “Make It, Shake It, Do It Good (Mardi Gras Man)” and the Jones and Taylor Experience’s “Mardi Gras Rap” added hip-hop to the mix, which already included rhythm & blues (Al “Carnival Time” Johnson’s signature tune or the Hawketts’ “Mardi Gras Mambo”); Mardi Gras Indian chants run through a filter of rock and funk (“Iko Iko,” “Handa Wanda”); swamp pop; and traditional Cajun songs like “La Danse de Mardi Gras,” whose roots may be nearly as old as American Mardi Gras itself. Wherever and whenever that party technically began, its spirit is infectious enough to find its way into the soundtrack of our whole season of revelry: parties, parades and debutante balls, from the street to high society. But just so we’re clear, 2 Major Twinz have no ambivalence about the origin of stateside Mardi Gras. “We started this here,” the Mobilians sing, “so all others bow down.”

by Alison Fensterstock Carnival season has long been associated with music, from the high school marching bands that delight parade-goers each year to the litany of traditional songs that celebrate the occasion. And as of last Carnival season, the oldest Mardi Gras party in the U.S. is the topic of something very 21st-century indeed: a viral hip-hop anthem. “Mardi Gras Song” by Wesley and Whitney Grant — twin brothers who together are the Mobile-based rap duo 2 Major Twinz — is a familiar and beloved part of Mobile’s Carnival soundtrack. Its rattling hi-hat, booming brass and celebratory lyrics (“Moon pie, moon pie, throw me some beads/It’s Mardi Gras time in the MOB!”) make it a dependable spin for live DJs who want to hype up crowds before parades. Mobile’s main hip-hop and R&B station, 93BLX-FM, drops it into heavy rotation during the party season. The local hit went viral in 2016, 11 years after its original release, when a New Orleans filmmaker attached it to a two- minute short she’d cut together from a glorious day at the parades in Uptown New Orleans on St. Charles Avenue. “Mardi Gras Song,” with its second-line horns and propulsive parade rhythm,

was the perfect soundtrack to the colorful, dynamic shots of drum majors showing off footwork,

trumpets and trombones gleaming in the sun, dance teams strutting, and kids loaded up with beads. And

illustration by Mark Andresen


the Mardi Gras issue

“ If you run out of MoonPies, you might as well just lie down on the float. You can throw beads for a little while, but the people will start calling for MoonPies.” —Mobile City Councilman Fred Richardson

catch them, so the next year, everyone on the float threw them. The crazy thing about these legends is that they’re likely all true! By the 1960s,Mobile’s Mardi Gras season was two weeks long and featured 17 separate parades, each with numerous floats, making it highly likely that different people on different floats in different parades all began throwing MoonPies (or local versions of them) at around the same time. Yet, regardless of who threw the first one, how did MoonPies rise to dominate the throws and become a staple and symbol of Mobile Mardi Gras? To understand this, we have to look back at throw history. Early Mardi Gras throws,dating to the 1800s,were French bonbons or trick prizes like small bags of flour that burst when caught. These were eventually banned, and throws did not

play much of a role again until after World War II, when they became an increasingly integral part of Mardi Gras parades. In the 1940s and 1950s, taffy candy and serpentine (rolls of unraveling confetti) were the most common throws, and it was considered a feat to catch a whole roll of serpentine. “Throw me a whole roll, Mister!” became a common parade shout heard on the route. In the late 1950s, city officials banned ser- pentine, claiming that people choked on it, but some Mobilians insist the serpentine actually choked the gutters — not people — and thus was a chore for the city to clean up. To replace the serpentine, float riders began throwing new items like rub- ber balls, beanbags, candy kisses, doubloons (coins bearing mystic society insignia), bags of peanuts, bubblegum, hard candies, Cracker Jack and, of course, MoonPies.

cause the sharp corners of the boxes were injuring spectators. Since they were soft, easy to throw and catch, affordable, and had been a Southern favorite for decades, MoonPies became the perfect substitute for the hard boxes of Cracker Jack. “Oh, to catch a MoonPie!” says Marie Arnott, who attended parades in the 1970s, “Something that was actually edible and sweet! They were doled out sparingly and the chant in the crowd was always for MoonPies.” Over the next few decades, MoonPies grew into a Mobile Mardi Gras institution. Today, each float rider throws roughly 900 MoonPies during a single parade, estimates Stephen Toomey, owner of the primary Mardi Gras supply store in Mobile, Toomey’s Mardi Gras. Toomey’s alone sells 4.5 million MoonPies each Mardi Gras season. And though the streets are littered with beads at each parade’s end, there are usually no MoonPies to be found. For months after Mardi Gras, Mobile children find MoonPies in their lunchboxes and trade each other for favorite flavors. Local newspapers and magazines print MoonPie recipes. In 2003, Doris Allinson Dean published her booklet Death by MoonPie — a cookbook full of creative ways to consume post-Mardi Gras MoonPies. And on New Year’s Eve in 2008, the City of Mobile sponsored the first “MoonPie Rise,” raising a giant, 900-pound, illuminated banana MoonPie (constructed by Mardi Gras float builder Steve Mussell) over the city of Mobile at the stroke of midnight. The following year, 25,000 people attended the MoonPie Rise, which is also branded by the city as “MoonPie Over Mobile.” When I ask Fred Richardson why he thinks the event was (and is!) so successful, he credits the universal appeal of the MoonPie: “Cracker Jacks are for kids, but MoonPies are for everyone. The MoonPie cuts across barriers of age, race, economics. The MoonPie brings people together. If I had picked some other object, it could have divided the community. But nobody has anything against the MoonPie. Everybody loves the MoonPie.”

But MoonPies hit their stride as throws in the early 1970s, when the city of Mobile banned Cracker Jack (the then-favorite Mardi Gras throw) be-




photo by Romney Caruso

Moon Pie Cake WHAT YOU WILL NEED FOR THE CAKE 11/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup graham flour 11/2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup sugar 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1/4 cup vegetable oil 3 large eggs, at room temperature FOR THE MARSHMALLOW FROSTING 2 (1/4-ounce) packets unflavored gelatin 2/3 cup cold water for gelatin, plus 1/2 cup for syrup 2 cups sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract FOR THE GRAHAM CRACKER CRUMBS 1 graham cracker, crumbled FOR THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE ¾ cup semisweet chcolate chips 3 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon light corn syrup teaspoon vanilla extract cup milk, at room temperature 2 tablespoons honey 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1

Combine sugar, remaining 1/2 cup water, and salt in medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dis- solves, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Increase heat to medium-high and bring syrup to boil. Boil, without stirring, until syrup registers 238 degrees on candy thermometer, 6 to 10 minutes. With mixer running at low speed, slowly and carefully pour hot syrup into gelatin. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is thick, glossy, and firm and exterior of bowl is cool to the touch, 10 to 15 minutes. Add vanilla and beat just to combine, about 30 seconds longer. Set one cake on a cake stand. Working quickly, spread about 21/2 cups marshmallow frosting over one cake round with an offset spatula. Top with second cake round and spread remaining marshmallow frosting on top and sides of cake. Lightly coat sides of cake with graham cracker crumbs. Refrigerate 5 to 10 minutes to set. In a double boiler over hot but not boiling water, combine chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup. Stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth, then add vanilla. Spread warm glaze over top of cake, letting it drizzle down the sides. Refrigerate just until glaze is set, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve.

HOW TO PREP Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat two 9-inch round cake pans with baking spray. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper and coat with baking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together all- purpose flour, graham flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together milk, honey and vanilla; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat sugar, dark brown sugar, butter, and oil on medium speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to low and add 1/3 flour mixture then 1/3 milk-honey mixture, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Repeat until all of the flour mixture and milk-honey mixture has been added. Transfer equal amounts of batter into each prepared pan and bake, rotating pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in cen- ter of cakes comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Set pans on cooling racks and cool for 10 minutes. Invert cakes directly onto cooling racks, peel off and discard parchment lining. Allow cakes to cool completely, 1 to 2 hours. Place 2/3 cup water in large mixing bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand until gelatin softens, 5 to 10 minutes.


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