I apologize for posting this so late in the day. I ordered an item for the Mardi Gras table about a week ago (just couldn’t resist) from a vendor that will remain nameless for now. I was promised delivery last week, then yesterday and then today. Supposedly it has been out for delivery since 9:45 am. I called every postal facility I could get a number for and I believe there is an APB out for the package and my tracking number should be scrolling below your local news right after school closings tonight at 11 pm. Well, needless to say it has not arrived and it is after 7 pm.
If it ever gets here some time tonight, I will post some updated pictures to show you and if it doesn’t get here tonight, you will have to be surprised next year. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the Mardi Gras tablescape that I have prepared for you and enjoy the rest of your evening.
Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday”, is the last day of the Carnevale season as it always falls the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
In Italy, Venice is famous for their Carnevale Celebration. The Carnevale season begins approximately two weeks before Fat Tuesday. Carnevale in Italy is a huge winter festival celebrated with parades, masquerade balls, entertainment, music, and parties.
In the United States, New Orleans is famous for Mardi Gras. During this time, people attend parades, festivals, and parties.
But if you aren’t traveling to either Louisiana or Europe for the festivities, join me as I celebrate Mardi Gras & Carnevale at home complete with masks, beads and food.
(Click on photos to enlarge)
In my house, I set the table in the Mardi Gras colors.
Purple for Justice,
Green for Faith and
Gold for Power
and then I serve a traditional Italian Lasagna di Carnevale, not the expected Mardi Gras food; gumbo, jambalaya, grits and beignets.
You probably guessed by now that I am an Italian girl who loves to cook, so I combined the two celebrations.
I’ll explain about the lasagna… During Lent Christians are obliged to fast and rich foods such as meat are to be avoided. Lasagna di Carnevale is filled with meat and cheese and is meant to be served as a very indulgent meal before the fasting. My grandmother used to make a different variation of this dish every year because the idea of this dish is to use up whatever meat you have in the house before Lent. Some years are just ground meat & ricotta and then other years the lasagna included sausages, salami, mozzarella and prosciutto; so there is no specific recipe. Let your imagination and refrigerator contents be your guide.
In addition to the lasagna, my grandmother would make a Carnevale Cake with almonds, olive oil & citrus – see recipe below from
During Carnevale anything goes…
Another common food to eat during Mardi Gras is pancakes. This tradition started in the Middle Ages as a way of using the milk, butter and eggs that wouldn’t last during Lent. It is also traditional to toss the pancakes with a coin in one hand in order to ensure prosperity throughout the year.
I am all for keeping up with traditions, but throwing pancakes in my house is one tradition I do not participate in; but feel free if you’re in the mood – the kids will love this.
For my centerpiece this year, I placed Mardi Gras beads in a glass bowl that I have had for years. I purchased the bowl in Crate and Barrel back when I was a new bride many years ago. You will have to guess how old it is, I’m not saying. This is one of my favorite bowls and you will see it quite a bit in many of my tablescapes. I piled the beads in the bowl around a Mardi Gras cascade and added some feather masks and the centerpiece is done.
Mardi Gras and Carnevale wouldn’t be complete without masks, so I always include them with my place setting for this occasion. I have had these masks for years and they always look great with whatever plates I choose to use – love the sparkle. Masks range from the simple to the very ornate, but the simple masks work better for me with this table setting.
I am constantly shopping for new items for my tablescapes and this year I stumbled upon two great new finds during one of my internet shopping sprees. I was lucky enough (and very excited) to find both flatware & glassware with the Mardi Gras colors, that I think look great with the masks and bring the whole table together.
A few other pieces I added to the table to jazz it up a bit are the jester hat and king’s crown along with a new purchase of some Mardi Gras glass table confetti I picked up in Pier I. I very often try to use some sort of confetti when I set a table. I especially like the glass pieces when I have candles on the table because they pick up the light so beautifully.
It is absolutely impossible to own every dish, platter, etc. that goes along with your theme to make your table complete, so I often add a themed paper plate from a party goods store. Sometimes, it is just the finishing touch you need. Don’t be afraid to mix your china and stoneware dishes with paper goods. Remember the mix and match table from New Year’s Eve?
Here I included a solid green dinner size paper plate and a Mardi Gras themed luncheon size paper plate from Party City. It adds a lot of sparkle to the table and brings out the colors of not only the masks but the flatware and glassware as well.
Purple tablecloth from Linens and Things
Gold charger plates from Pier I
Theme paper plates & garland from Party City
Beads, masks, crown and jester hat- from purchases from many years ago that I keep adding to…
Glassware from Amazon – new purchase!
Flatware from Wayfair – new purchase!
Napkin rings from Bed, Bath & Beyond
Glass confetti from Pier I – new purchase!
Gold napkins from Macy’s
And once again, another Mardi Gras has arrived and a popular custom that I say every year I will try but never do, is the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings, called what else,
“A King Cake.“
I am sure you have all seen them. Basically a Danish type dough that is braided and shaped in a circle. The cake is filled with either raspberry cream cheese, cinnamon or praline and decorated with sugar with the Mardi Gras colors
This photo is of the cake I purchased this year from Whole Foods Bakery.
Each King Cake has a tiny plastic baby inside. The tradition of the King Cake is that the baby symbolizes luck and prosperity to whoever finds it in their slice. The finder is designated King or Queen for the evening and is responsible for purchasing next year’s cake and is asked to continue the festivities by having the next King Cake party.
So instead of heading to the kitchen with a recipe to make the cake, I once again headed to the phone to order a praline filled King Cake from Whole Foods (between the heart shaped ravioli in the Valentine’s Day post and this King Cake, I give a lot of stores free advertising).
I will let you know who gets the plastic baby.
If you don’t want to order a King Cake and want something you can do with the kids, I saw this on Pinterest and thought this would be a great project. You can make or buy cupcakes, some white frosting and colored sugar (Wilton brand colored sugar is great and it is sold at Michael’s Arts & Crafts or Party City- here I go again with another ad) and create your own Mardi Gras designed cupcakes.
So have a wonderful Mardi Gras Celebration
I hope this post gave you some Mardi Gras ideas for your tablescape that you can use at home. I had a great time sharing this tablescape with you.
If you are interested in authentic Italian recipes, there is a website that I follow, LindasItalianTable.com – (click on her link) many fantastic recipes that remind me of my grandmother. Here is one of my favorite recipes…
(Schiacciata Alla Fiorentina)
Makes: one 9” round cake
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
1 1/2 c. Flour
1 c. Ground Almonds
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. Olive Oil
3/4 c. whole milk
Zest of a fresh lemon
1 Tbsp. Lemon Extract
1 c. chopped Candied Lemon Peel (optional)
Powdered sugar for dusting
Grease a 9 “ spring form pan.
Put whole almonds through a food processor to grind them finely
Mix together in a large bowl: flour, ground almonds, sugar, and baking powder.
Add olive oil and milk. Mix together until incorporated.
Add the extract and lemon zest and mix well.
Add the chopped candied lemon peel, if using it.
Pour into your prepared pan, and bake at 350 degrees until golden and set in the center – about 35 minutes depending on your oven. Test with a knife – if it comes out clean – you’re done!
Release and remove the side of the spring form pan and cool. Dust with sifted powdered sugar.
A note from Linda on how to serve: You will love this beautiful lemony CARNEVALE CAKE. You might enjoy it with a glass of Limoncello and an espresso! Believe me – there is nothing lovelier than this cake – especially as your swan song before Lent.