Mardi Gras, pancakes and a new tradition

Mardi Gras is one of those very Catholic things that cracks me up — because it’s so human. Just before Lent, during which people are called to refrain from all excess and on some days fast, Mardi Gras is a final blowout, devoted to eating the most decadent food you can think of — both because they are foods you won’t be allowed to have again for a month and a half, and to use up those ingredients in the home.

The most traditional food is fried dough — pancakes especially, and also donuts or latkes (which if you recall I wrote about two months ago as being the traditional food of Hanukkah). Once again, an excuse to eat fried carbs!

Last year, on the way home, when I hadn’t managed to find any opportunity to have pancakes or donuts on Mardi Gras and it was already nighttime, in a moment of inspiration I got okonomiyaki for dinner. Okonomiyaki is Japanese street food at its best: pancakes made of flour, eggs, shredded cabbage and diced squid, topped with Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise and bonito flakes. I’m super-lucky to live in a partly Japanese neighborhood and go to the nationally-known takeout stand Otafuku around the corner for it once in a while. I wrote about Otafuku and okonomiyaki in this piece last summer: Okonomiyaki and connecting through music.

So today, maybe I’ll get some more traditional American pancakes. But right now, I’m leaning towards turning Otafuku’s okonomiyaki into a tradition by doing it for a second year in a row. I know it’s not really decadent, which is supposed to be the point, but honestly I have no desire to binge on bad food in advance of Lent.

You can see all my Lent-themed pieces together at Please share this link, or just one to my blog, with anyone you think might be interested. Thanks!

About Phil Fox Rose

Phil Fox Rose is a writer, editor and content lead based in New York. He is coordinator of Contemplative Outreach of New York, helping promote centering prayer, which has been his contemplative practice for nearly 20 years. Raised atheist by ex-Mormons, Phil has journeyed through Quakerism, deep ecology, Buddhism and Catholicism. Now he's a congregant, worship leader, cook and chair of the leadership team at St. Lydia's, an awesome dinner church in Brooklyn, NY, and spends as much time in nature as possible. Phil has been a political party leader, videographer, tech journalist, punk roadie, software designer, sheepherder, stockbroker and downtempo radio DJ. A common thread is the process of learning about stuff, figuring it out and then sharing that understanding with others. Follow Phil by RSS feed, email, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.