Lots of little girls in other cities reign as princesses in their playtime realms. But only in New Orleans will so many little princesses grow up to reign as queens in an entire area’s Carnival realm.
Open The Times-Picayune newspaper on a Saturday or Sunday this time of year and you’ll see more glittering crowns and sparkling tiaras than you can shake a scepter at, as you peruse the photos of Carnival ball courts. And no two crowns are alike!
Read the stories accompanying the photos and you’ll see words and phrases rarely found as a matter of course in other major metropolitan newspapers: parure, regal raiment, royal dais, central motif, traditional rhinestone dome, ermine-trimmed cloth of gold.
And then there’s my personal favorite: heavily encrusted (as in “Her majesty’s peau de soie gown was heavily encrusted with imported Austrian rhinestones”).
Which brings me to another of my personal favorite features of the New Orleans Carnival celebration: Galatoire’s Mardi Gras martini, which is, of course, purple, green and gold.
To make one, combine 2 ounces vodka, 1 ounce Triple Sec and ¼ ounce dark crème de menthe with ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a martini glass rimmed with purple sugar. Garnish with a lemon twist.
(To make purple sugar, add a few drops red and blue food coloring to granulated sugar and mix. Rim glass with a cut lemon and dredge in colored sugar.)
Before sipping, lift your glass in a toast to all of our Mardi Gras monarchs.
Mary Lou Atkinson once covered Carnival balls for The Times-Picayune. She promised to take a picture of the Mardi Gras Martini, but wound up drinking it instead. She writes Crescent City Culture: Observations on the art of living in New Orleans for NolaVie, whenever the creative spirit strikes.