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Here in New Orleans we are on holiday. When I first moved here Mardi Gras didn't seem like such a big deal, and my first year I actually tried to hold clinic hours on Lundi Gras. My staff set me straight pretty quickly. Even if I wanted to work, no one, staff or patients, would come because pretty much everyone (except those in the hospitality industry) takes the Monday before Fat Tuesday off. They don't even deliver the mail here today.
New Orleans cuisine typifies what I mean when I say that the Mediterranean diet is the American diet. All of our food traditions in this country come from somewhere else, and most of those cuisines come from European countries, especially those around the Mediterranean. While many of our dishes are of northern European origin, the influence of the Mediterranean runs deep.
In New Orleans that Mediterranean influence means France, Spain, Italy and northern Africa. The "holy trinity" of bell peppers, onions and celery that many Cajun recipes start with is Spanish. Making a roux is a fundamental principle of French cuisine. The spices are taken from Italian, Spanish and African recipes. Fish predominates here as it does in those countries. All of this is wrapped up in a package that uses the ingredients at hand along the Gulf Coast: redfish, shrimp, rice, fresh veggies and beans.
We hope you enjoy your Mardi Gras, wherever you are. Here are some New Orleans recipes to flavor your celebration.
Eat well, eat healthy, enjoy life!
Timothy S. Harlan, M.D.