In honor of Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday (February 20), here's a tip for giving your foods that spicy New Orleans touch.
"Cajun (or Creole) Mustard" is the rowdy, raucous, bad boy of mustards. Open a jar and, if you're not prepared, you might just get knocked down by the heady aromas of spice, vinegar and mustard seed, all wrapped up in a light blanket of heat. Hooey! This is not that sissy stuff passed amongst Rolls Royces. Cajun mustard definitely adds kick to a meal. Next time you're in New Orleans, order shrimp with remoulade sauce and you may be very surprised, for there, that old boring grandfather of a sauce is made with Cajun mustard, and suddenly it finds youth again. Cajun mustard is available in specialty markets and at some grocers. Look for it in the condiment aisle and on the counter in the fresh seafood area. Or, you can make your own by mixing a strong brown mustard with horseradish, cayenne or other chile, and vinegar. It makes a lively sauce for braised chicken breasts—just add a tablespoon or two with some white wine to the skillet, cover and simmer until done. Then, as they say at Mardi Gras, "Laissez les bontemps rouler!"—Let the good times roll!
The Chinese Zodiac represents 12 animals, each of which rules for a full year. Half bear the Yang characteristics: wild, mythical, male and active. The other half are Yin: domestic, female, passive. Together, these forces rule and balance the world.
According to legend, the Jade Emperor held a cross-country race of all the animals. The first twelve to finish were selected for the zodiac. During the race, the rat hitched a ride on back of the ox. A few feet before the finish line, the rat lept from the ox's back and raced ahead, crossing the line first and winning the race. This also earned the rat first placement in the chronological listings. The rat was equally as cunning with the cat, fooling the cat into believing the race was to be held a day later. To this day, the cat has no opportunity to rule and for this he still chases the rat.
The corresponding dates of the lunar and Western calendars vary, but the Chinese New Year usually begins in February. The observation of the New Year lasts two weeks, culminating in the spectacular parades seen in Chinatowns all over the world.
New Year Flower Market
Grant and Pacific Avenues
Sat. 10:00 AM—9:00 PM
Sun. 9:00 AM—5:00 PM February 17—March 3
Carnival Street Fair
Washington & Clay
9:00 AM—11:00 PM February 19
Chinese New Year
Gung Hay Fat Choy! February 24
Miss Chinatown USA Pageant
Nob Hill Masonic Center
Tickets: 415/397-8988 (from $10 to $50) March 1
Miss Chinatown USA Coronation Ball
SF Hilton—O'Farrell at Mason
Tickets: 415/982-3000 March 2
SF Hyatt Regency Embarcadero
Tickets: 415/989-3797 (from $35 to $65) March 2
Chinese New Year Parade
Bleacher Tickets: 415/982-3000 ($20)
6:00 PM to 8:00 Pm March 2, 3
Chinese Community Street Fair
Grant Avenue from Jackson to Broadway
Pacific Avneue from Stockton to Kearny
Sat. 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Sun. 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
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