FANWOOD, NJ – The Fanwood Grille (34 South Martine Ave.) will celebrate Mardi Gras on Tuesday, Feb. 13, with a special Cajun food menu that will include the eatery’s popular New Orleans chicken gumbo, crawfish etouffée, and classic Po’ boy sandwiches. 

For the occasion, the Grille will extend its evening hours until 8:00 p.m. Reservations are suggested for the Cajun food fest. The menu will consist of:

  • New Orleans Chicken Gumbo
    A popular item on the Fanwood Grille's menu, gumbo is Louisiana's official state dish. It is slow-cooked with chicken, zesty andouille sausage, Cajun spices and a combination of vegetables consisting of okra, green peppers, and onions.
  • Shrimp Po’ Boy Sandwich
    A Po' boy is an oversized sandwich on a baguette-style bread usually stuffed with fried seafood.
  • Crawfish Étouffée
    Étouffée (pronounced “eh-too-fey”) comes from the French word “to smother.” The seafood dish is similar to gumbo but made with a lighter color and flavor.

There will also be a Kids Menu of hamburgers, hot dogs and mac & cheese.

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“Customers love our gumbo, so we thought we would extend the menu a bit for Mardi Gras and add some of the more popular dishes of Louisiana cooking,” said chef Paul Watterson of the Fanwood Grille. “We’ll save you the plane ride to New Orleans.”

Mardi Gras is celebrated across the globe, mainly those with large Roman Catholic populations on the day before the religious season of Lent begins. The origins of Mardi Gras, also known as Carnival or Shrove Tuesday, actually dates back thousands of years to pagan spring and fertility rites.

The first Mardi Gras in North America was celebrated in New Orleans in 1699 by French explorers whom French King Louis XIV sent to defend France's claim on the Louisiana Territory. In the early 1800s, a group of students donned colorful costumes and danced through the streets of New Orleans, emulating the revelry they’d observed while visiting Paris. Louisiana made it a state holiday in 1875.

Fun facts about Mardi Gras

  • Feasting and masquerades, part of today's Mardi Gras celebrations, derive from the ancient Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia.
  • In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII added Mardi Gras to what we now call the Gregorian calendar on the day before Ash Wednesday, which begins Lent, the 40 days of fasting and prayer leading up to Easter.
  • Mardi Gras is also called Shrove Tuesday. In Ireland and the UK, it is common to eat pancakes on Mardi Gras. Thus, it is also sometimes called "Pancake Day."
  • The purple, gold and green Mardi Gras beads symbolize justice (purple), power (gold) and faith (green).
  • It is illegal to ride on a Mardi Gras parade float in New Orleans without wearing a mask.

The party will include free Mardi Gras beads for the kids and New Orleans jazz music. To make a reservation, call the Fanwood Grille at (908) 322-9500. 

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Editor's Note: TAPintoSPF.net publisher John Mooney is owner of the Fanwood Grille.