Mardi Gras

Happy Mardi Gras from Special Collections! Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to Pagan celebrations of spring and fertility. This includes the Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia! With the immergence of Christianity, these local traditions were incorporated and became the prelude to Lent, the Christian practice of fasting and penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. As Christianity spread to other European countries, so did the celebration of Mardi Gras.

The name Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”. Before Christian influences, Mardi Gras was commonly known as “Carnival”, which was also derives from a fasting tradition.  In Medieval Latin, carnelevarium means to take away or remove meat. Today is all about indulging oneself before the start of a traditional fast. To help celebrate, we pulled some cookbooks from our collections to share recipes dating all the way back to 1723.

TX705.S55 1723

Who doesn’t love a chicken or pigeon pie on a chilly day? This recipe from 1723 proves that chicken pot pie is a classic.

TX705.M36 1750z

Elderberry wine only contained a few ingredients including raisins, water, and juice of elderberries in this recipe from 1750.

TX705. G54 1755

Avocado toast may be all the rage today, but in 1755 it was “brockely” and eggs or asparagus and eggs on toast!

TX717.A186 1845

If you’ve never roasted a pigeon before, which I’m sure few have, we now have a diagram and recipe from 1845 to make sure our game roasts perfectly.

TX725.D68 1952

Though many of us love macaroni, in the 1950s the delicacy was kidney in this beloved dish. Perhaps ask your grandparents if they ever had this treat growing up?

If you would like to find more recipes by exploring our various cookbooks, Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open 8-4:30pm, by appointment only. If you would like to see any other part of our collections, we are open to questions at

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