It is Carnival in New Orleans and many of us are feeling very well, thank you for asking!

So far it’s been a hit or miss affair where the weather is concerned, but we’ve seen worse. We’ll put on the smiles we usually reserve for company and get through it.

I have a daughter who is 6 and ¾. She does not like parades because they’re too loud and crowded. I don’t know if things are entirely different these days, but I loved parades when I was a kid and now I’m ambivalent. I know that part of it is my age, but I think a good bit of it is that I no longer associate Mardi Gras with room temperature Popeye’s fried chicken.

My wife is something of a germaphobe. By “something of a germaphobe,” I mean that she custom orders hand sanitizer online and were it socially acceptable would probably wear a surgical mask at all times. She will politely decline to eat any food that she did not see prepared in most contexts.

I cannot imagine what she would do if she saw me gnawing on a chicken leg that was cooked at 6:30 in the morning yet I pulled out of a cooler at 3:30 on a typical New Orleans afternoon. I like to imagine her shocked face as she watches 10 year-old me tear into that chicken leg like a damn hyena.

I don’t know whether Popeye’s is the best fried chicken to take to parades these days. I’m not all that brand-loyal where fast food is concerned, but I am nostalgic from time to time. I remember eating Popeye’s pretty much all day during Carnival. 

I remember parties where the hosts cooked huge pots of red beans and rice for guests, as if opening your doors on a parade route wasn’t enough. I remember catered affairs with crab dip and toast points and I remember people who served gumbo in those paper bowls that were fancy enough to make the concept, “gumbo in a paper bowl” work.

If you surveyed 10,000 people nationwide, I bet I’d be on the skinny side of the “associates memories with food” scale, but I’d also bet that most New Orleanians would be with me.

I have two questions for you: 1) Do you have similarly visceral food memories with Mardi Gras? And 2) Can I use your bathroom if you’ve got a house on the parade route?

Awaiting your reply…