Water droplets beat against the bedroom window, which framed a gray sky that poured all day into the evening. But the smell of hot butter browning in a skillet and the buoyant sound of trumpets and keyboard from the radio lifted my mood. I’ve only experienced Mardi Gras through weekend parades leading up to Fat Tuesday. But not the evening often touted on the news as an occasion of unabashed revelry and regrettable drunkenness.
“This must be a nostalgic time for you, isn’t it?” I asked my boyfriend Charles while he browned the French toast in a melted layer of what he calls “fake butter,” a cholesterol-free alternative to butter that I try to keep in his fridge should we decide to treat ourselves to a heavier brunch. I thought he was going to reminisce about stumbling out of the Napoleon House after having had too many beers or talk about the things he and his high school buddies did to get girls to catch their beads.
But instead, he prepared for Fat Tuesday as though it were Christmas. Reminding me weeks in advance to keep the evening free. Pulling out plastic beads to wear to work or offer his daughters. Interspersing the weekends before Mardi Gras with meals containing some variation of grits and cheese, a heavy cream sauce, and way too much butter for the sensibilities of a girl who practiced portion control with a kitchen scale. His shameless use of animal fat was both horrifying and endearing. If a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, he reciprocated by spending equal time over the stove to cook his way to mine.