Green Gumbo is the penitential dish of choice, post-Mardi Gras.
After Fat Tuesday, Catholics in New Orleans do as Catholics all over the world do. They go to Mass on Ash Wednesday, give up meat on Fridays, make small sacrifices, and peform acts of penitence and prayer until Easter.
While the rest of the United States settles for frozen fish sticks and Filet-o-Fish sandwiches on Fridays, New Orleans enjoy crawfish and fresh seafood every day of the week without a whole lot of suffering, to be honest.
One traditional New Orleans Lenten dish is Gumbo Z’Herbes or green gumbo, a meatless version of the traditional Cajun dish.
Made with onions, peppers, garlic and greens, with a healthy splash of Tabasco, it is said that however many greens your Gumbo Z’herbes contains will be equal to the number of new friends you will make in the coming year. So load your stew up with kale, collards, parsley, mustard greens, dandelions, spinach — whatever you can get your hands on!
Funnily enough, a version cooked with meat – usually ham, chicken, and andouille sausages — is traditionally served on Holy Thursday. Try this recipe from Simply Recipes!
As the city celebrates 300 years of Catholicism this year, here’s a look at a timeline of New Orleans’ early Catholic history (Wikipedia):
1721 – Fr. Francis-Xavier de Charlevoix, S.J, toured New France from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi, and visited New Orleans. He described “a little village of about one hundred cabins dotted here and there, a large wooden warehouse in which I said Mass, a chapel in course of construction and two storehouses.”
1734 – Ursuline Convent built.
1752 – Modern-day Ursuline Convent building is finished, today the oldest and finest French Colonial building in the U.S.