When New Orleans restaurateur Ralph Brennan and Terry White bought the iconic pink stucco building that had long housed Brennan's, they never dreamed that they would be acquiring a family of turtles—10 of them to be exact—who inhabited the fountain pool under a canopy of greenery in the property's legendary courtyard. Last year, after the grand re-opening, Brennan’s welcomed the temporarily displaced turtles home, and is making that event a tradition by rolling out the emerald green carpet again for the Second Annual Turtle Parade at 11 a.m. on March 12. It will be a jubilant journey as 10 turtles progress through the French Quarter on decorative wagons in a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the Mother Sauces, the foundation of New Orleans cuisine, complete with a police escort and bagpipe and drum procession in “the slowest second line on earth.” The festive party is Brennan’s “green” take on the weekend of the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, a nod to Ralph Brennan’s Irish ancestry.
As “Breakfast at Brennan’s” has become part of the common parlance so have the “Turtles at Brennan’s,” named for the five Mother Sauces of classical French cuisine so essential to New Orleans fare: Béchamel, Espagnole, Hollandaise, Tomate, and Velouté. In accordance with the distinctive local lingo, the group has been dubbed “The Muthas and the Othas," the "othas" bearing the names of five other sauces that complete a New Orleans menu: Remoulade, Ravigote, Bordelaise, Mignonette, and Cocktail.
All are invited to march along with the Krewe of Turtles as they parade along the streets of the Vieux Carre and return home to the glorious historic residence with a blessing, champagne sabering, and complimentary hors d’oeuvres and confections. Out of regard for their mascot-status, the turtles will be formally pardoned, ensuring that none will ever land in a Brennan’s signature Turtle Soup.
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