The Daily Evergreen

Beads and bayou food at Northside

LATISHA JENSEN | Evergreen reporter

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Mardi Gras festivities made their way to Pullman on Tuesday night, as participants wore feathered, purple, green and gold masks and Mardi Gras beads into Northside Dining Hall.

During Tuesday’s lunch and dinner, traditional Mardi Gras food added variety to the usual dining hall menu with an assortment of options, including vegan corn chowder soup, Gumbo Ya-Ya, fried catfish, shrimp and grits, king cake and more.

Eddie Aguilar, general manager of Northside, dedicated time and energy to putting this event together, after he received the challenge to go above and beyond previous years.

“[The purpose is] to showcase some of the culinary talent, and to spruce up the place to make it a little more fun and lively,” Aguilar said. “We’re on the West Coast, so we don’t really get that feel of [Mardi Gras].”

Aguilar used his personal connection with the Community Band of the Palouse, a group he is a member of, to get them to join in. Aguilar played the trumpet, which he has been playing since fourth grade, and performed with his group last night, along with Cougar Marching Band members and Pullman High School band members.

“It’s fun to give the people of the residence a sense of community and that this is not just the dorms or a place where you can get some food,” Aguilar said. “It’s an integral part of the whole experience of living on campus. Food is integral to all sorts of social interactions.”

The band walked single file, with Aguilar leading them into the main dining area playing the classic and familiar tune, “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The musicians also played other tunes such as “Rubber Duckie” and “the Bare Necessities.”

Aguilar wants people to view the dining halls as more than merely a place to eat, but rather a place to get together, make friends and feel that sense of community, he said.

The authentic food prepared and served throughout the day was inspired by Executive Chef and Manager Matthew Lasof’s 10-plus years of experience as a chef in New Orleans.

Since Lasof could reach the stove, he has pursued his passion for cooking. His familiarity with the culture of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras made him the perfect candidate for the main chef of this occasion.

“Everywhere I’ve ever worked, I’ve done a Mardi Gras event, and here is no exception,” Lasof said. “I wanted to do something that really represented a cross section of New Orleans and has some of the symbolism Mardi Gras has.”

A traditional dessert called king cake was served at last night’s event. It is served annually in all types of gatherings during Mardi Gras, Lasof said.

Every year, New Orleans residents bring a king cake to gatherings with a small plastic baby stuck in on the inside. The person who gets the slice with the baby is then responsible for buying the next cake, Lasof said.

The king cake was topped with icing and sprinkles in the traditional colors, and the taste was described as “a giant cinnamon roll” by attendees. The dessert even included edible sugar babies to give students a feel of tradition.

“I hope they [got] a real genuine taste of New Orleans,” Lasof said, “not only the food, but the culture, and the music and the fun that’s Mardi Gras.”

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Beads and bayou food at Northside