Photograph by Flickr, Creative Commons, jeffreyw
Shrove Tuesday will be celebrated around the world on Tuesday 17 February, 2015. Our thoughts move towards Lent, commencing Ash Wednesday, and whether we will give up an item for 47 days and nights. Lent represents the fasting season, and by tradition households would use up rich staples such as sugar, eggs and milk ahead of the fast. And so we have Pancake Day, celebrated in the UK, Australia and parts of Canada born from the desire to use up goods in the pantry.
In my home town in England, Pancake Day was the only day of the year where my Dad would take over the kitchen and prepare the pancakes. For us children it was such a treat to have Pancakes for dinner. Not a vegetable or gravy in sight. Dad made a special sauce for the pancakes using the juice of one orange and one lemon, butter, lemon and orange rind, sultanas and treacle. (Treacle is a sugar-based syrup, rich in flavour and texture, that will enhance any sweet treat. ) We eagerly awaited the tossing of the pancake in the pan. Would they really stick to the ceiling if thrown too high? Would he catch them? Dad had the batter and butter combination figured out and he rarely had one stick or break.
The pancakes were served thin. We sprinkled them with sugar, rolled them up like sleeping bags, and poured the syrup over top. We mopped up the sweet sauce with bites of the absorbent wraps. Delicate, sweet and warm, the treats melted in our mouths. We patiently awaited second helpings, with the chef only able to produce one pancake at a time. The whole event was a labour of love. Dad loved to cook the pancakes and we loved to eat them. I am sure that Mum loved a night off from cooking too.
Pancake Day remains a strong tradition, celebrating its historical past and community. While we may not clear our pantries of rich items today, we can still enjoy a break from our routine meals, and create our own traditions. Villages and towns host Pancake Day races, families come together to enjoy the food.
How will you mark Shrove Tuesday, and what are you giving up for Lent?