Fresh From the Farm – Katie Malich

Today is not just an ordinary Tuesday in many parts of the world.
As any party-goer in New Orleans or Rio de Janiero can tell you, today is Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras: a day of feasting and, in cities like Rio and New Orleans, carnivals, parades and partying before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday.

The traditional observation of Lent, the 40 period in many Christian liturgical calendars before Easter, is a period of prayer, penitence, almsgiving and denial in preparation for the commemorations of Holy Week. Observers mark this time by fasting from food and festivities. The need to use up rich foods like meat, dairy and eggs prior to the start of Lent contributed to the Mardi Gras culinary traditions.

Culver City and its environs is home to a significant Brazilian community. While most of America associates Mardi Gras with the partying in New Orleans, the hearts of Culver City’s Brazilian community will be Rio, famed for its Carnaval, the world’s largest pre-Lent celebration. The word carnival is derived from the Latin for farewell to the flesh. You’ll find some scantilly clad revelers in both New Orleans and Rio, but the recent spate of cold winds we’ve been having is probably deterring Culver City residents from wearing their most over-the-top Carnival costumes today.

The Tuesday Culver City Farmers Market is definitely the place to stock up on deserts for your Mardi Gras and Carnival celebrations. Along Culver Blvd., you’ll find mouth-watering flans, a wide variety of home-style cobblers, and other tempting sweets. And don’t forget the booths along Main Street, where you’ll find an array of baked goods and freshly made crepes.

Colorful pictures of exuberant crowds of people dancing the samba at Carnival got me to thinking about Mardi Gras treats you might find in Brazil.
Avocado as a desert ingredient? I was intrigued when I ran across this recipe during an internet search for Brazillian Carnival recipe. It had never occurred to me to serve pureed, lightly sweetened avocados as a desert. Try this recipe for Creme de Abacate, and let me know what you think.

Crème de Abacate (Avocado Cream)
(serves 4)

2 medium Avocados
2 tbsp Lime Juice
4 tbsp Caster Sugar
Iced water or White Wine
(optional thin slice of lime to garnish)
Cut each avocado in half. Remove seed. Peel and slice the flesh. Place avocado slices, lime juice
and sugar in a blender or food processor. Puree until completely smooth. Check consistency. Make sure there are no lumps.
Add a little iced water or white wine if the consistency is too stiff.
Transfer to individual stemmed glasses and serve slightly chilled.

The Tuesday Culver City Farmers Market is held from 2 to 7 pm on Main Street between Venice and Culver Blvds.
The Culver South Farmers Market is held from 7:30-1 pm in the northeast corner of the Westfield Culver City parking lot near Hannum and Slauson.

If you look carefully, Katie Malich might be wearing some purple, yellow and green Mardi Gras beads today.

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