Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Pancake day or Fat Tuesday...Time to celebrate!

Today is Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday! Today is celebrated all over the world with fun, games, and of course a lot of eating. Traditionally it's the time people used to eat the foods that would be abstained from or avoided during lent. Pancakes have egg, butter and flour and are filled with sweet treats – and so are seen as a last 'feast' before the fast.

However, today's different names reflect the differences in customs that have developed over the years in various places around the world.

In Denmark it is also traditional to indulge before the beginning of lent. Their pancake day is celebrated on the last Sunday before lent, so the Sunday before Shrove Tuesday. The day is called Fastelavn. On this day it is customary to eat Danish style buns with the middle taken out and then filled with whipped cream and/or jam.

Apple Fastelavn buns

Children dress up in fancy dress, there doesn't seem to be a theme, but the number of princesses, cats and princes may be due to a strange custom of bashing a barrel with a live cat in it. Now (fortunately for the cats), this is no longer a tradition and the barrels are instead filled with sweets. A thought that would put fear into any parents hearts – the best (most brutal?) bashers are crowned Cat King and Cat Queen for the day.

In Sweden it is called Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday). The Swedish people eat a Fettisdag buller (a Fat Tuesday Bun). This is a round bun with the middle part scooped out and replaced with Marzipan with whipped cream. The top of the bun is placed back on sprinkled with icing sugar.

I'm not a fan of marzipan but these look delicious!
In Newfoundland Canada, objects with symbolic value are baked into the pancakes. These things traditionally are a coin, thimbles, nails, wedding rings, buttons. The lucky one to find a coin in their pancake will be rich, the finder of the ring will be the first married, the finder of the nail will become a carpenter and the finder of the thimble will be a sewer.

In France, Shrove Tuesday is called Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday.
The name Fat Tuesday comes from the ancient custom of parading a fat ox through Paris on this day. The ox was to remind the people that they were not allowed to eat meat during Lent.
During the Mardi Gras Carnival people disguise themselves and put on crazy masks. 

In Portuguese, Spanish- and Italian-speaking countries, amongst others, it is known as Carnival. This derives from the words "carne levar" (to take away meat) and thus to another aspect of the Lenten fast. It is often celebrated with street processions and/or fancy dress. The Venetians celebrate carnival with a masquerade. My favourite has to be the Mardis Gras in New Orleans - once my Dad came back with lots of beads and goodies for us after being on one of the floats!

So whatever and where ever you are celebrating Fat Tuesday, don't forget to indulge a little!

English Pancakes
1 cup of flour (plain flour not self raising)
1 egg
1 cup of water
A dash of milk

Mix the ingredients together until you form a batter
Heat a very small amount of oil in a frying pan.
Spoon in a SMALL amount of the batter. Test the heat of the pan and absorb excess oil. Throw this tester into the bird food pile - it should only be little and mainly fat!
Dollop in a large amount of batter, and twirl your frying pan to spread the runny batter out evenly.
Cook over a medium heat
When you can shuffle the pancake (it's no longer sticking to the pan) then flip it over!
Cook until the pancake once again shuffles freely.

Eat while warm with whatever topping you fancy (lemon and sugar for me!)

With thanks to the Britain Project and Wikipedia for their information!

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