Make sure to try the softshell slider during Louisiana Creole weeks at Universal's Mardi Gras (Photo: Universal Orlando)

Food for Thought

The biggest party in Orlando is back, and bigger than ever! This year Universal Orlando is celebrating the 25th anniversary of their Mardi Gras celebration. With a spectacular parade, nightly entertainment and live concerts, it's one of the biggest events of the year. A highlight of the event is being able to sample the authentic Cajun cuisine and specialty beverages. This year Universal is taking it to a whole new level with the new Carnival Around The Universe Tasting Tent.

Located in the French Quarter Courtyard inside of Universal Studios Florida, guests will be able to sample delectable new dishes inspired by carnivals around the world. Every two weeks the Carnival Around The Universe Tasting Tent will spotlight a different country, debuting an entirely new menu of international dishes and drinks. Here's a rundown of the full menus and schedule.

Feb. 1 – Feb. 15: Trinidad & Tobago
Featured three plant-based and delicious dishes, the first two weeks of the event were spotlighting the Caribbean flavors of Trinidad and Tobago. The Grilled Pineapple Trini-Chow was topped with kimchi seasoning and cilantro. Pholourie is a fried spicy split pea dough seasoned with turmeric, curry powder and tamarind chutney. And the Chickpea Double was made of chickpeas served on a spicy bara flatbread with micro cilantro and mango chutney.

Feb. 16 – Feb. 29: Louisiana Creole
Taking it back to where the Bayou Bash first began, weeks 3 and 4 will feature flavors from Louisiana. There will be two offerings available including a Softshell Crab Slider made with crispy fired softshell crab topped with organic vegetable slaw and served on a soft brioche roll with bayou aioli. A perfect accompaniment, the Cauliflower Dirty Rice is a vegan dish made of rice-cut cauliflower with plant-based protein crumbles, black eyed peas and Cajun spices.

March 1 – March 14: Brazilian Carnival
Weeks 5 and 6 are celebrating Carnival in Brazil with two addictive dishes and a new mixed drink. The Pão de Quiejo is a warm cheese bread served with guava dipping sauce. These little pockets of cheesy goodness are perfect for grabbing before the parade! You can also indulge in the Sweet Plantains covered in cinnamon and sugar and served with a banana poppy seed dipping sauce. To drink, there will be The Girl from Ipanema, a specialty cocktail featuring gin, lime, orgeat syrup, coconut water and pineapple simple syrup.

March 15 – April 2: Germany
For the final two weeks of Mardi Gras you can celebrate "Karneval" with some classic German fare. The Sauerbraten features tender, slow braised beef with buttered Spaetzle and pickled red cabbage, topped with a savory red wine sauce. There will also be the Grilled Bratwurst served on a potato pancake with whole grain mustard, sour cream and chives. And it wouldn't be a German festival without a Warm Pretzel!

NEW ‘Float Floats’ and Mixed Drinks
You can get three different floats inspired by this year's parade theme, Treasures of the Deep. These tasty, over-the-top ice cream floats are designed after the floats in the parade, and feature a variety of soft serve flavors, sodas, boba and edible decorations. Select from the Mardi Gras Float, the Shipwreck Float and the Sunken City of Atlantis Float. New mixed drinks are also available, like the Twister with rum, blood orange liqueur, and watermelon juice, and the Bourbon Street Punch with bourbon, orgeat, coconut puree and orange juice to name a few. Order one in a souvenir Mardi Gras glass or blinky cup!

Plus, you can still find all your New Orleans inspired favorites like jambalaya, shrimp gumbo, crab etouffee, po’boys, Cajun twisted tators, beignets and more. All of the Mardi Gras food and drinks are available in sample sizes. You can pick up a Mardi Gras Tasting Lanyard, so you can try a little bit of everything, and even use it over the course of multiple event nights.

All of the excitement of Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras celebration is included with general admission to Universal Studios Florida. That includes the unforgettable parade and nightly entertainment, as well as special live concerts on select evenings. The event is happening from February 1st to April 2nd in 2020. Be sure to get your tickets to Universal Orlando here for the best deals around.